Gemini Man (2019), a recap (part 4 of 6)

NOTE: This article is a work in progress.
Please check back soon for more installments!

Last time: We discovered the clone’s name is “Junior” and has been raised by Clay Varris. Henry discovered the news and… took it rather well. Yuri gave him the skinny on Clay’s master plan to create super soldiers, expecting Henry to do something about it. Which brings us to Lassiter chilling in her fav coffee shop staring at a bike messenger.

Y’know, I’m looking at Lassiter in this coffee house setting…

…and I can’t help but wonder if this is what Jennifer Aniston is going to look like in ten years. Probably the same; we all know she maintains her youth by bathing in the blood of virgins.

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Lassiter asks the bike messenger who the message is from, and he says he got paid a thousand dollars and it’s pretty obvious he could care less. Lassiter listens as the messenger reads the missive on his phone, which details Lassiter’s street address, the security code for her alarm system, when she gets up, and where she gets her soy latte. The message ends with her evenings spent watching Forensic Files while wearing sweats and sipping a Jose Cuervo. Then her phone rings. I think at this point the bike messenger should be wondering if he just stumbled into a criminal conspiracy and his tip is going to be a bullet to the back of the head. But hey, at least he’ll leave behind a good-looking corpse.

Lassiter answers: it’s Henry. He tells Lassiter there are two shooters, and if she gets up she’s “AMFed”. Lassiter gets the hint and stays put. So… was this Henry’s hobby? Spying on his boss? Was he already that paranoid of her? Or maybe he’s just into older women and he’s been stalking her. Not sure which is worse, really. Lassiter of course denies any responsibility, pointing out the cloning took place before she came on board. Yeah, but you’d think she could have told Henry there was a clone of him running around, right? Henry lets that slide for now and tells her to tip the messenger. Lassiter in turn tells the guy to get lost. Bitch. This movie won’t be complete without her getting shot now. The reason for Henry’s call is he wants Danny to be brought in, but only if the clone is the one to do it. Then Lassiter drops a bombshell: the clone can be in Budapest in five minutes. The clone is in country. Henry hangs up after giving a time and place for the meet, and once he tells the others the news, the question between them is how did the clone know where they were? Oh, there was one more thing; Baron asks what “AMFed” means and Danny explains, “Adios, motherfucker.” How the hell does she know that and Baron, the grizzled veteran, doesn’t?

Night falls and we find Danny and Henry sitting in a SUV near the Vajdahunyad Castle (I had to switch on subtitles to get the name. Fun fact; the castle was built in 1896 and was originally made of cardboard and wood and was meant to only be temporary, but was so popular with tourists they rebuilt it with stone and brick. And they’ve got a bust of Bela Lugosi on the external wall. And no, the Hungarian Bureau of Tourist and Trade have not slipped me any cash, why do you ask?). Danny wonders if the plan will work, and Henry assures her she’s his younger self’s type. Danny teasingly asks if that means Henry’s attracted to her and he quickly denies it, but the “younger, less mature” version of him is. What, his taste in women changed? That’s bull; I grew up lusting after Maya on Space: 1999 and I’m still attracted to alien shapeshifters. Still, I’m so very glad they didn’t try to shoehorn a romance into this movie; these two hooking up after knowing each other for just, what, seventy two hours would have been entirely against the character of the young professional agent and the troubled, grizzled loner. Forcing romance into this film would have been a lot like this:

Why, no, Mars corporation hasn’t bribed me. Why do you ask? Danny gets out of the car and heads into the castle…

…and doesn’t this place look great? Wouldn’t you love to visit? Maybe bring some peanut M&Ms along with you on the flight. Danny heads on in and spots a silhouette: it’s the sniper. He motions for her to keep going and the two finally meet face to face.

I like how Junior’s expression is that of the emotionless warrior who gives up nothing, and Danny’s is one of almost triumph, like she was positive but satisfied to see the absolute proof standing right in front of her. Junior motions for her to head down the corridor while he follows. They head into a small courtyard where he tells her to strip. Danny’s incredulous when he calls her “ma’am” and Junior explains he was raised to be polite to his elders. Oh, snap! Junior says he has to check her for a wire, and after hesitating, Danny strips down to her bra and panties. Junior looks off to the side and appears distinctly uncomfortable, and I like these little touches, how Smith is giving both characters their own, well, character. And kudos to Ang Lee for being tasteful and cutting to close ups of their heads as Junior pats her down. Danny takes it in stride and notes how careful he’s being as he examines her scalp. Junior says caution is what’s kept him alive, and that sounds exactly like something Henry would say, so while the two are different, I like these little things that also make them the same.

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Junior hands Danny a phone and has her call Henry. The younger tells the older that in twelve minutes he’s putting two bullets in the back of Danny’s head and damn, would it have killed Winstead to at least raise her eyebrows or look just the tiniest bit concerned? I’ve heard of poker faces, but damn! Junior sets up a meeting at the “quartz chamber of the catacombs” which in Hungarian is “a katakombák kvarckamrája”. Henry objects, so Junior says he’s got eleven minutes now and hangs up. He then tells Danny to get dressed. Later, they’re in a cab with Danny driving. She learns that Junior was raised outside of Atlanta and tries to appeal to his humanity, but even though he has his doubts, he seems resolute. They arrive at their destination.

The pair head down into a series of catacombs, and it’s obvious Junior has done plenty of prep. He has a gas mask and night-vision goggles on hand, and sets up a grenade and tripwire. Then he has Danny place her wrists into some zip ties he’s already set up for her.

Welp, that’ll bring the budget down some when the young lion and old lion face off. Danny asks Junior what he knows, and Junior says Henry killed eight men and his own spotter, because he went crazy. Danny tries telling Junior the truth but he kills the lights, turns on the goggles, and shuts her up with duct tape. Then there’s an explosion: the grenade’s been tripped. Junior quickly heads out and reaches the chamber, where the bricks are still glowing hot to his night vision. And then someone sticks a flare in his face from up above.

Totally, blinded, Junior gets taken down by Henry.

Well, that was… anticlimactic. Still, I do appreciate what went on here: in a straight-up fight, Junior’s got the edge and he beat Henry easily before. Here, where Henry’s got Junior’s measure, he has counter-moves and experience wins out. Did I want a bigger battle? Of course. But I can’t fault the logic here. While Junior doesn’t realize he’s looking at his older self, Henry’s face is full of shock as he finally gets a good look at his clone. Smith does a great job in the contrast of expressions here.

And yet… we see the principal problem with this casting, in that Will Smith looks really, really good for his age. So there isn’t enough of a difference between the two. Maybe someone like Brad Pitt… but no, he looks too good these days, too. Darn it, why do all these modern actors have to age so gracefully? In my day, you had guys like Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson who looked thirty and grizzled when their mommas popped ‘em out.

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Henry disarms Junior, and Smith does a fantastic job of displaying Junior’s fear and uncertainty, as if he’s never been beaten this decisively before and can’t help but wonder why he isn’t dead. They head back to where Danny is tied up. Henry releases her while Junior has his face to the wall, then he hands Danny a flare and lights it up. Henry thanks Danny for the tip about the grenade, which shocks Junior, who turns and realizes Danny had a bug in her mouth…

…and so all that talking she had been doing had been for Henry’s benefit. Henry’s advice to his younger self: you either search somebody, or you don’t. Burn! Henry tries talking to Junior about Clay, and how he figures Clay started him off on hunting small game, and by the time he was a teenager he killed his first deer, and by the time he was nineteen he was ordered to kill his first man. Henry knows Clay told him to “lean into his fear”. He notes all of Junior’s personality quirks and his allergy to bees, and how he probably plays chess and loves puzzles but also suffers from doubt, and the only time he feels right is when he’s pulling the trigger. The two try telling Junior that he’s a clone and Junior doesn’t buy it, and thank God that it’s a hard sell, because it should be. I’m thinking maybe these two should have just lied and said Henry was Junior’s biological father and Clay stole him away? There’s plenty of time to tell him the truth later. Henry asks Junior why Varris sent him.

Junior: Because I’m the best!
Henry: [with his gun in Junior’s face] You are obviously not the best.

Heh. Henry goes too far and brings up the fact that Junior is twenty three years old and probably still a virgin because he’s afraid to connect, and for people to discover what he is. Henry gets too close and Junior goes for the Henry’s gun, and it’s on.

Okay, here we go: the fight I wanted. The gun goes flying and Danny retrieves it as the men square off. It’s a gritty battle as the two throw down, and all in all, it’s a fair contest. The uneven lighting and close quarters give neither man an advantage, and it does a favor to Ang Lee as he has to do his best to show Will Smith fighting himself. And overall, it looks pretty good.

I mean, it’s okay, for the most part. That there looks a touch, well, fake, but when you consider the kinetic action going on, would anyone in a theater really have noticed? It’s only when jerks like me pause the film every ten seconds that you start seeing flaws. The battle rages on, with the men bouncing each other off walls, and dislodging old bones and skulls in the catacombs. Henry repeatedly tells Danny not to shoot Junior, even though eventually the younger of the two gets the upper hand.

Danny threatens to shoot, but Junior now knows Danny won’t, but before he can choke Henry out, the bone breaks. Junior stabs Henry in the shoulder with it, but the fight goes on until they burst through a wall and fall into a pool twenty feet below.

Next time: The conclusion to the clash in the catacombs. Does Junior finally come to his senses? Check back soon to find out.

Multi-Part Article: Gemini Man (2019), a recap

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