Feb 2, 2021
Gemini Man (2019), a recap (part 2 of 6)
NOTE: This article is a work in progress.
Please check back soon for more installments!
Last time: Elite soldier Henry Gordon decided to retire after an assassination, feeling he was losing his touch. Then an old war buddy of his named Jack told Henry his target had been an innocent man. After uncovering the fact that Danny, the woman running the boat shed, was his handler, we see that Jack was eliminated, a loose end dropped into the ocean with his mistress.
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The scene flows from Jack and his mistress sinking to a man and woman staring down at someone, first person style, in the water:
The actor played Henry’s father is Diego Adonye and his IMDb biography shows he was in this movie, an episode of Strike Back, and… that’s it. Two appearances in six years? Really? And the woman playing Henry’s mother is Lila Bank; her resume is even shorter. Are these stage actors? Are they not professional actors and are friends of casting directors Zsolt Csutak or Avy Kaufman? I gots to know… but I think this is one mystery that’ll never get solved.
It turns out they’re talking to a young Henry, and judging by the black and white filter, this is probably a dream. Dad lets him go and Henry begins to sink and drown. My bad: it’s a nightmare. The woman dives in and as she swims down to retrieve her son, the filter goes from black and white to a flashing red and blue, with an ear-grabbing buzz. We cut to Henry’s bedroom, which is dark save for his phone and the perimeter alarm flashing red and blue. Henry rolls out of bed, shuts off the alarm, and dials a number. While the phone rings, he opens up his happy fun bag of firearms and prepares for war. The call goes to voice mail, and we learn he’s trying to reach Jack. You can tell Henry’s got a good idea what’s befallen his friend.
Cut to Henry’s former partner Marino, the guy from the train, who considering the binoculars in his hands is either on stakeout or he’s a serial stalker. His phone rings and it’s Henry, who warns him to…
But Marino doesn’t take the warning seriously, and as Henry listens, Marino gets cut off mid-sentence. Henry knows that someone is cleaning house and killing anyone he’s been close to recently. Outside, men reach the porch and begin to climb the steps, but gunfire erupts from underneath and takes out their legs. Henry finishes the job, and then dispatches the two snipers in the trees in almost comically short order. So Henry’s boss knows he’s their best operative alive, right? Seventy plus kills? A dude who instead of drinking and whoring in his spare time grows bonsai trees and builds bird houses, so he’s a sober man of focus and patience? Why the hell didn’t she just launch a missile from that drone of hers? Oh. Because it would have been a 21 minute movie. Well, 31 with the closing credits. Moving on.
Cut to Danny’s place, where she suddenly wakes up, gun in hand, and sees Henry in the corner. He tells her that somebody sent a kill team to take him out and the fact that she was sleeping means she didn’t know about it. Or, you know, she’s a sociopath and can sleep peacefully knowing a guy she had dinner with a few hours earlier was going to die. I mean this is the DIA, which apparently is full of casual killers and run by people who regularly assassinate US citizens, so I think maybe hiring mentally unbalanced operatives wouldn’t be unreasonable. Danny says she didn’t know about the hit on Henry and he says that means she’s next. Um, why? She’s a valued asset, right? Marino, I could see, because who knows what Henry told him, so… Oh, wait, who knows what Henry told Danny at dinner, right? Okay, answered my own question.
Henry points out the office has keys for all the boats, and suggests she head down there and grab a fast one. Danny enters the office and goes for the rack of keys, but…
…someone gets the drop on her. So this guy was watching the boat office; why wasn’t he watching her apartment? Why didn’t Henry run into another squad of these guys sent to kill Danny, since they seemed to deploy all the squads at the same time? In fact, shouldn’t Danny already be dead? Man, I’m really bitchy this time. I wonder if it’s because I got word George Clooney is going to be producing and possibly starring in a Buck Rogers remake and I didn’t get any credit for it, because obviously I inspired him. Oh well, guess I’m just gonna have to sue. I’m not expecting to win, but a little settlement cash would do me nicely; I’m not greedy.
Danny is able to spin around and get a good shot to the dude’s holiest of holies, but he knocks her into a desk and she hits the floor hard, and he suggests if she doesn’t start talking, he’s going to start pulling teeth. But then Danny’s got a knife out and stabs him in the ankle, and just typing that makes my eyes water at just how painful that must be. A pretty good fight ensues that I would have enjoyed more with a bit more, you know, light, but honestly where would it come from? Danny wouldn’t be dumb enough to turn a lamp on, and it’s nighttime. During the melee, three silenced shots are heard, which brings the man up short and gives Danny the edge she needs. She manages to get her gun out and says he needs to tell her what she wants to know… or else. Henry shows up and Danny leaves the office with the guy bound up and silent. She tells Henry, “It’s Lassiter,” and he wonders how she knows. Her response is to drop a handful of teeth into his palm. Okay, I can’t see how she could’ve pulled so many teeth out in so short a time, but that was pretty sweet. The pair hop onto a boat and Henry points out if she leaves with him, she’s leaving everything behind. Her response is to pitch her phone into the water. Henry notes that her fear is a good thing, in that it makes her alert. She asks him what scares him, other than bees. His answer: drowning. And then they’re off!
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Back at DIA HQ, Clay and Boss Lady are meeting, and looking at pictures of the carnage on a tablet, and he asks rhetorically if this is the Boss Lady’s way of “handling it”. I would have laughed out loud if he had said he would have used a drone strike. He says it’s like “the Hindenberg crashing into the Titanic.” That sounds exactly like the type of project Irwin Allen would have produced in the ’70s before Jaws hit and Hollywood switched from disaster films to nature-run-amok movies. He tells Boss Lady that he and Gemini are going to handle things now, and he’ll make it look like a Russian hit. And when it’s over, they can give Henry a state funeral complete with a flag on his coffin and everything. Boss Lady asks if he’s got an asset in place, and Clay replies he’s got the perfect guy for the job.
Back with Henry and Danny, they’re chillin’ on a beach, discussing what the hell is going on when a plane outfitted with pontoons arrive. And who pops out?
It’s Wong! I mean, like, Wong from Doctor Strange and the Avengers movies. But, uh, his real name is Wong, too: Benedict Wong. And judging by the ace of spades tattoo on his wrist, he and Henry are old war buddies. It turns out Wong, whose name is Baron, owns a charter service and is one hell of a pilot. He’s shown up with burner phones and a ride to his house where the pair can hang until they figure out their next move.
Later, Jack’s former handler Lassiter is at high school watching his son getting grilled by his principal for apparently being an ass. Considering who probably fed Henry the false intel about his last target, I’d say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. He gets a call, and it’s Henry, whose tolerance for bullshit it pretty low right now. He confirms that Marino and Jack are both dead. Henry then gives Lassiter his burner number so he can’t be traced, and tells him to use another phone, and Lassiter proves he’s pretty resourceful by renting a student’s phone for a $100 bill.
He swears he only lied to Henry the one time about his target, and I think the only way Henry would believe this is if they were face to face and Danny had pulled a few teeth first. Lassiter does admit that Varris is behind it all, and Henry’s last target used to work for Gemini, so it looks like Clay was tying up another loose end. Lassiter wants them to come in, but without leverage that’s not something Henry’s about to do, so he hangs up.
Later on, Henry asks Danny what she knows about Gemini, which is that it’s a privately owned paramilitary outfit. Clay founded the outfit and tried to get Baron and Henry to work for him after he left the army, but both men told him no. But Clay doesn’t seem like the guy who takes no for an answer.
We find out our trio is in Cartagena, Colombia, and Henry gives Danny the 411 on Gemini. They’re up for everything and anything, from kidnappings and tortures to off the book hits. He then tells Danny a wonderful little story about how Clay took Henry five miles out to sea, tied weights to his ankles, and tossed him overboard to make him tread water for as long as he could. And Henry did… until he drowned. And Clay’s still alive after that? Damn, Henry, with all your well connected friends, how hard would it have been to quietly retire and disappear his body? I get that you’re the good guy, but who would have blamed you?
The next morning, Henry’s danger sense wakes him up to the fact there’s a sniper on a nearby roof. He slept in his clothes and… man, even his shoes? Wouldn’t his feet be all swollen? The guy’s like fifty, right? The first thing I think about when waking up is how much my feet are going to hurt when they hit the floor. Henry grabs his happy fun bag to pull out a bulletproof vest, then finds Danny and Baron and tells them he’s going to lead the sniper away so they can get someplace safe. Henry slips out and heads down the sidewalk and he spots the sniper in the reflection in a puddle.
Henry lets off a few rounds from under his armpit without really looking, more I guess to get the sniper’s attention. The sniper returns the favor, but his shot misses. Henry’s able to use some hanging banners as cover and avoids a couple more shots as he gets to a safe place and pulls out a grenade from his happy fun bag, as well an automatic rifle. He uses the scope to check out the rooftop and sees…
…which causes his blood to grow cold. Or I guess that’s what Will Smith’s expression implies. I know he’s looking at his clone, but unless he suspected all along that cloning was a thing, then would he really recognize his younger self? I mean, the clone is even wearing sunglasses and a hat. Henry misses his shot, but the sniper almost doesn’t. Henry shoots a padlock sealing a set of double doors and heads into a courtyard. He heads up some stairs while the sniper hops off the roof on the opposite side of the courtyard and they exchange shots, then the younger dude slides down a palm tree without missing a beat, all the while having time to toss a grenade. Henry’s got just enough time to kick it over the side of the balcony before it blows him up, and this whole action sequence took just a few seconds, but damn if it wasn’t a sweet piece of choreography.
The sniper had enough time to get to cover before the grenade blew, and he shoots up at Henry as he dashes across the courtyard while keeping his head down. Henry positions himself at the top of the stairs where he can see the sniper coming in the mirror.
Between this and the reflection earlier, I’m getting the whole symbolism thing, but it is Ang Lee, after all, who we know can’t just make a straightforward action movie. The two have an exchange where Henry asks the sniper if he saw a picture of Henry. The kid says, “Yeah, you look old,” and if I were Henry, I think that’d hurt worse than a bullet. Henry tries to reason with him, but the sniper’s not interested, so the little punk gets a grenade tossed down at him. The sniper literally shoots the grenade so it ricochets back up at Henry and somehow that’s both more absurd than the train shot from scene one and more awesome at the same time. But Henry’s not where he was when he tossed the grenade and doesn’t get caught in the explosion, and the chase is on again. Henry reaches the roof and we finally see civilians, and since it’s Colombia, seeing a gun-wielding stranger hopping around on rooftops must feel like old hat to these people.
Henry tries getting off the roof with a metal ladder, but the sniper’s on him and he falls, losing his rifle in the process. Henry lands hard and runs while the sniper slides down the ladder and does some of that flippy-parky stuff the kids are all into these days. Henry then tears a guy off his motorcycle and rides off.
Henry heads down back alleys and side streets and stops, pistol in hand, waiting for the sniper. But the sniper gets the drop on him, showing up on a motorcycle of his own. I’m not even going to ask where he got the bike from or how he knew exactly where Henry was. The sniper chases Henry and has the high ground, which if Star Wars taught us anything means Henry’s doomed.
Neither man can get a clear shot on the other at first, until Henry manages to get one off, setting the sniper’s bike on fire. The sniper launches his bike at Henry who’s able to duck to avoid it, then the sniper does some more flippity stuff, slams into a pair of police officers, and steals one of their motorcycles. Um, don’t you think at this point the op is kind of blown, what with cops now being aware of two gun-wielding maniacs rampaging through their streets? But no! The sniper’s still hot on Henry’s trail.
Henry shoots out the tire of a car as he passes it, causing it to swerve, and the sniper adroitly avoids the car in yet another sweet piece of stunt choreography, made all the more impressive because I’m almost positive there’s no CGI going on here. The sniper’s machine pistol is out of bullets so he accelerates to catch up to Henry, and the pair pass by Danny and Baron who stare with concern from a balcony. The sniper clips Henry’s front tire and he takes a nasty spill, and even though I know that was CGI, it still looked pretty damn real. The sniper comes back around and hits Henry in the face with his rear tire.
I mean, damn, was that CGI? Because it looked so real I flinched. The sniper sweeps Henry’s legs out from under him with a pass from his motorcycle’s tire, and now I’m wondering if there’s some obscure martial art that uses dirt bikes, like motocross-fu. Henry’s all messed up, but he finds it in himself to leap into the air as the sniper tries to take his head off.
Twenty years later, and they’re still ripping off The Matrix. The sniper launches his motorcycle at Henry who barely avoids it, then the bad guy pulls out a knife and is all ready to get up close and personal when the police finally [!] show up. Henry turns to look at the cops then glances back, only to find that the sniper is gone. Like, how? He was all out in the open. Is he like the Predator and can turn invisible? God, please don’t let it be that. Henry does the smart thing and gives himself up to the cops as Baron and Danny look on. Danny finds the sniper’s cap and picks it up as Baron wonders aloud what the hell that was.
Next week: We find out what the hell that was.