Gemini Man: Ang Lee’s new vision of the future [critique]

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Gemini Man
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Ang Lee surfs on a banal script to deliver a theoretical and dizzying action film. Must see in the best possible format.

First unencrypted broadcast, this Sunday, for Gemini Manon France 3. When it was released in the fall of 2019, the film by Ang Lee worn by Will Smith had impressed First. Here is our review.

A train going at three hundred miles an hour, a sniper waiting for it hidden in the sunny countryside: Ang Lee uses the introductory scene of Gemini Man as a gateway to immerse its audience in its world. That’s the setting, those are the rules of the game. It’s also as if Ang Lee were in dialogue with the opening scene of flip-flop by John Woo, but the director of The Killer completely embraced its subject and delivered a synthesis of US and HK actioners (moreover, we shudder in advance to think that the US remake of flip-flop in pre-production runs the risk of using techniques of catch performance) which blurred the genres by exchanging faces and bodies. Lee, he theorizes. And his camera leaves his subject far behind. Shot in 3D and in HFR (high frame rate) at 120 frames/second, Gemini Man tells how a super-assassin from the American Secret Service, eager to retire, is hunted down by his former mentor at the head of a private military company. This mentor will have him tracked down by his clone: ​​himself at 25 years old. The Will Smith of 1995 stalks the Will Smith of 2019.

Well, said like that, the script seems to have come out of Jerry Bruckheimer’s drawer of forgotten projects, sub-section “90s”, sub-sub-section “high concept”. It is indeed. But it provides a splendid testing ground for Ang Lee. Gemini Man is considered as a theoretical object, and this theory takes precedence over that of entertainment: the dynamics at work in Gemini Man is the opposite of that ofAlita: Angel Batthe other great digital work of 2019. Always theorizing, Lee also questions the very bottom of his Gemini Man : Clive Owen plays a kind of big bad studio mogul, his office dominating a simulacrum of city (thus a film set) where he trains his troops in urban combat, and his illuminated speech in favor of the clones resembles that which could hold fans of digital copies of dead and/or rejuvenated and/or cloned actors (“no more need to risk the lives of real Americans” can it be understood as “no more need to pay real stars”?).

There are two cinematic issues in the film: the first is the duplication of Will Smith in the young version (fun facts useless: the actor who plays young Smith when he had to play the role of himself is called Victor Hugo). This rejuvenation technique gives young Smith’s acting a certain stiffness, in body and frame, but provides obviously funny scenes of old Smith confronting his lost youth, lecturing his self about era bad boys. The second issue is the use of high resolution. All the interest of Gemini Man holds in the vertigo created by the combination of the two effects, during an incredible chase scene in the colorful streets of Cartagena between Smith and Smith Junior. We dive into the image. The HFR eliminates the effects of blur between each frame as much as possible, resulting in an astounding feeling of continuity in the action. Lee is indeed one of the rare filmmakers – with Peter Jackson and James Cameron, other evangelists of the HFR/3D combo – to want to use this grammar of continuity on the big screen, a grammar that we thought was reserved for the ultra HD cinematics of big budget video games. Don’t trust the trailers or excerpts: the experience Gemini Man can only be seen on the big screen, in relief, at the image/second ratio pushed to the maximum.

Exactly, once the 3D glasses have been put back on, the question inevitably arises: can we feel the cinematic shock of Gemini Man outside the format for which it was designed? Already, A day in the life of Billy Lynn, his last film released on the sly in France, proved difficult to see in home cinema, deprived of its optimal viewing device, namely the 3D and HFR combo. The other blockbusters, designed not to take risks, are confined to showing the IMAX (Impossible mission, the MCU films) as a guarantee of a great show. Good news : Gemini Man will be screened in France in 3D at 60 frames/second. While Billy Lynn played on the total disorientation (the loss of bearings of soldier Billy is that of the spectator deprived of his comfortable blur of 24 images/seconds), Gemini Man wants at all costs to give the most powerful impression of reality possible. The smallest gesture of cinema, the most banal there is – a camera attached to the float of a seaplane landing, a dialogue in reverse – becomes a universe in itself. And Gemini Man finger on the infinitely large.

Gemini Man hits theaters on October 2.

Gemini Man: Will Smith impressed by his digital rejuvenation

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