Jan 21, 2021
Gemini Man (2019), a recap (part 5 of 6)
Last time: Henry and his clone finally met in the catacombs under Budapest and the verbal altercation turned physical, with the pair going through a bone-infested wall and falling into a pool of water below.
Danny follows in the wake of the feuding pair, submachine gun in one hand and in her other a lit flare—
No, I said “lit flare”, not “lit Flair”, although honestly, I’m sure Ric’s gotten himself high on more than one prescribed med or two in the past. Danny drops the
Flair flare into the water below to get a better idea of what the hell is going on. Seeing the two fighting, she takes a flight of stairs down and pauses at the lip of the pool. Below her, Junior has Henry in a lethal chokehold and is attempting to drown the man, and it looks like he’s succeeding. Danny jumps into the pool and holds the gun on Junior, demanding he let Henry go.
When Junior fails to comply, she shoots him in the arm or shoulder, causing him to release Henry. The younger swims away, calling out that he isn’t Henry, calling him an “old man”. Damn, some words can hurt worse than bullets. Well, that’s not true; nothing really hurts quite like a bullet. Danny’s able to half-drag Henry in the opposite direction, as she tells him where she shot Junior. Henry knows the kid will recover. Whether or not that’s a good thing, however, is up for debate. With Danny supporting Henry, they make it to an exit where Baron is waiting by their SUV.
Baron notes that it’s not every day you see a man get his ass handed to him on two continents by himself. Stick to piloting, Baron; your standup routine needs work. After Danny gets Henry in the back of the SUV, Baron asks “Where to?” Henry tell him Georgia, where Clay Verris is. On the plane, Henry’s all tucked in, and he ruminates on how Junior’s probably scared as hell, having to go back home and walking into a “buzzsaw”. Yeah, I can imagine how Clay is going to take the bad news that “the best” couldn’t get the job done, twice. Danny says she needs sleep and Henry does too, but he notes that’s where “the ghosts” are. Yeah, after seeing that one nightmare where his father let him drown, I can believe it. But Danny’s insistent.
Cut to Georgia, where Clay is in his office.
Fun fact: the paintings on the wall behind Clay’s desk were created by Francis Bacon (the mid-20th century painter, not the English philosopher/statestman. Yeah, I didn’t realize there were two until tonight), and they’re called Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion and they’re one of the inspirations for the look of the Xenomorph in the Alien franchise. Now you can impress your next date by sounding all culture-fied.
Junior walks in and Clay idly asks him why it’s so hard to kill his target. Junior’s response is to talk about how since he was twelve, he and Clay would hunt turkey on his birthday and how much he hated it, but if Junior was an orphan, how would Clay know when his birthday was? Clay quips that next year, they could try Chuck E Cheese’s and Junior agrees: Clay, Junior, and the lab guys who made him could all go. Clay’s response?
I love how Clive Owen sells this moment: for a second he’s honestly not sure whether or not Junior is going to blow his head off. It’s a hesitation, and an assessment going on in his face and body language, and I’m guessing that the gun on the table behind him isn’t the only one close at hand. Then he stands up and decides not to deny it, but instead lean into his own fear and fess up, saying he thought Junior would be happier not knowing. Junior says the only time he’s happy is when he’s flat on his belly, pulling a trigger, which is the exact thing Henry told him earlier. He asks Clay why, of all the shooters, did he send him to kill the guy he’s grown from? And I’m loving the tension in Will Smith’s voice, and the suppressed grief and rage in his face. I might have criticized the casting choice due to Smith’s youthful appearance, but the man has acting chops.
Clay explains that Henry is his darkness. Junior suggests that Clay himself is his darkness, and I bet Clay is really regretting getting up from his desk where the presumed gun in the drawer is. Junior recalls the story of how his parents dumped him at the fire station and asks him if he knows how that made him feel. I bet Clay knew exactly how that would make Junior feel: unloved and desperately dependent on Clay for support. Clay says it was necessary and Junior cries out how none of it was. Clay decides to stop with the calm bullshit routine and starts using the Dad Voice, telling Junior how every day he’s been loved and told he was special, and the whole point was to give him his gifts without the pain Henry had to live with. Junior hesitates, but at heart he’s still a boy raised by a disciplinarian, and he caves.
Cut to the plane as it touches down at an airfield, and the landing wakes up Danny and Henry. The trio sneak away from the aircraft and Baron gives it a goodbye kiss, and hey, after some of the fetishes I’ve seen online, getting aroused by aircraft is at the low end of weird/creepy. They reach a series of what look like barns and Baron says that there should be a truck around here somewhere. Suddenly, Henry gets a dart in the back of the neck from Junior. I’d show a screencap, but the scene’s dark even for this film. Junior comes out from behind a bale of hay with his gun up, telling everyone not to move, which is when Henry collapses and starts to have trouble breathing. It turns out the dart Junior shot him with was full of bee venom. Baron keeps telling Henry to breathe… because what else is he gonna do? The only immediate treatment is a shot of adrenaline and antihistamine…which is what Junior has.
When Danny asks him why he’s doing this, Junior seems to honestly ask himself the same question, then he jabs the epi-needle into Henry’s arm, saving him. Junior apologizes, saying he had to be sure—presumably, that Henry really is an older version of himself—and Henry says it’s “all good”. Your younger self beat the crap out of you with a motorcycle, almost drowned you, and then almost killed you with bee venom? I get that Henry’s a good guy, but jeez, he sounds like an applicant for sainthood here. Baron asks how the hell Junior knew where they were, and the kid asks Henry if he trusts him. At this point is Henry going to say, “No, I don’t”? A moment later, Junior cuts into Henry’s bicep and pulls out a small tracking device.
Henry finds out they “chipped” him three years ago during a surgery. Baron mutters, “Verris,” and Junior asks him if he knows Clay. Baron nods, noting Panama, Kuwait, and Somalia, which are all places that the United States staged military actions. I wonder if it would have been better to choose places where the United States hadn’t been officially involved militarily, to imply Clay Verris was on the frontline of every black op the US of A denies happening, but that just might be me nitpicking. Baron asks if Junior can take them to Clay, and Henry says they both have to take him down.
Later in an SUV, Junior asks Henry about their mom. Henry talks about a woman who worked two jobs for forty years and whipped his butt partly because he deserved it, and partly because dad left when he was five and he just reminded mom of him. He joined the corps, made friends (nice bit when Baron from the back seat murmurs, “hoo rah!”), and met Clay. Henry tells Junior he’s got to walk away now while he can, and Junior quips, “And what… become a doctor, a lawyer?” Henry soberly responds, “A husband, a father.” It’s a nice moment and Ang Lee does a good job of making it work. The earpiece in Junior’s left ear starts glowing—
—and I immediately think it’s a trap, and that the whole bee sting/epi-pen moment was a plot to get Henry to trust him. And honestly, that would have been a very credible trap, except that Junior could have put bullets in all three of their heads in that scene. He tells the others that it’s Clay, and Baron wants to tell Clay they’re all “BFFs” now. Do I sound that cringe when I try to use modern slang? Gawd, I hope not; that would be totes bogus.
Junior takes the call and Clay asks him if he’s with Henry, and the kid tells him yes. Clay tells Junior he has to get the hell away from him, because Clay wants Junior safe. Junior sarcastically asks if this is because he’s Clay’s favorite science experiment, and Clay responds because he’s his father, and to be honest, I can actually buy that after twenty-three years it’s possible that Clay has developed some affection for Junior. Of all the names he could have given him, he gave him his own, after all. Sure, that might have been arrogance, but I can also imagine him seeing that baby for the first time, and maybe even a monster like Clay could have felt something. Or maybe he just sees Junior as a multi-million dollar investment and doesn’t want him gunned down by the Gemini hit squad that turns out to be waiting for them.
The guy kneeling in the street fires a rocket launcher, and everyone bails from the SUV before the missile hits.
Everyone but Baron, that is. Well, it was only a matter of time before one of them bought it, and Baron’s not the hero or the pretty woman, so this comes as no surprise. Junior and Henry’s eyes meet; they’re on opposite sides of the flaming wreck, and after a moment, the clone makes a dash for the battle van, his motives and intentions unknown. Meanwhile, Henry and Danny jump through the shattered windows of a nearby diner.
On a rooftop somewhere close by, Clay’s on the phone with the local chief of police, telling him that the local authorities have to stand down because there’s a terrorist threat and the Feds are on top of it. The police chief gives an affirmative and calls Clay Verris by his first name, which suggests Clay commonly invites the man to his weekend barbecues to shmooze with the locals just in case crap like this happens in his own back yard. Junior pops out of a doorway, and considering how Clay earlier had spoken about the importance of the high ground, it’s no surprise the clone was able to find him so fast. He tells his “dad” that Henry doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him, and Clay responds that what it doesn’t matter: Henry has to die. Down on the street below, the military murder van opens up with the mother of all machine guns, and its tracer bullets make it look like they’re firing a laser gun. The diner is torn the hell apart—
—and I guess the only thing that saved Henry and Danny is the bad guys couldn’t press the trigger hard enough. After so many rounds, I’m shocked the place is still standing. The gun runs out of ammo and winds down. Up above, Junior demands that Clay call the whole thing off, but Clay refuses. However, he does offer Junior another option: shoot Clay and take command. Down below, Henry and Danny prepare for a final stand against impossible odds.
Next time: The thrilling conclusion!