Mar 30, 2021
Gemini Man (2019), a recap (part 6 of 6)
Last time: Junior came to his senses and teamed up with Henry in order to take down Clay Sr., only for Clay to catch the gang offguard with an ambush in a small town near his facility. With Baron dead and Henry and Danny pinned down in a diner, Junior attempted to talk Clay down off his murder high.
While Clay tells Junior his only option is to kill him, take his radio, and assume command, Henry’s mansplaining to Danny where to shoot the bad guys. Really, you’d think after she handed him a handful of teeth and smoothly set up Junior for him earlier—and that after the mini-gun ripped the diner apart and she’s not in the corner screaming hysterically—that he would assume she knows what to do. Two guys come into the diner…
…and Danny and Henry drop ‘em both with zero effort. I get that Danny’s a talented operative who can take care of herself, but if everyone can do what Henry can do, then it kind of defeats the point of Clay cloning him, doesn’t it? I think it would have been better had this scene been set up where Danny empties her clip into her target’s head to distract him so Henry gets the guy in the side of the neck. Nitpicking? Sure. But bear in mind, we haven’t seen Henry be really all that awesome since the first act when he fought Junior… and he lost.
The pair pick up the dead soldiers’ submachine guns and Henry starts mansplaining again about “muzzle discipline”. Then he says Danny should “set” and he can “spike”, which is pretty much what I expected them to do when the soldiers came through the door. The pair pop out into the night to face a group of soldiers, who get taken down faster than a pack of Stormtroopers. Up on the roof, Clay uses Junior getting distracted by the gunfire below to disarm him. The pair fight and you’d think Clay wouldn’t have a chance, but he’s still the dad and Junior is still intimidated by him. He even slaps the taste out of Junior’s mouth.
Down below, Henry and Danny dash across a street and he shoots and kills three guys so quick and easy, it’s like they were wearing styrofoam. The pair avoid more gunfire, and Danny tosses a grenade onto an overturned truck that some guys were using as cover and it blows up spectacularly. Up on the roof, Junior gets the upper hand, but Clay savagely bites into his adopted son’s forearm, breaking his attempted choke. Down below, Henry punches a guy, setting him up for Danny. A guard shows poor discipline and his leg is exposed, and Henry shoots it and the gunman falls forward so Henry can finish the job, and call me crazy, but I’m starting to think these Genesis guys just completely suck at their jobs. No wonder Clay wants to replace them with clones.
Up on the roof, Clay lays into Junior’s back with some savage punches, telling his son that he’s trying to make a man out of him. Yeah, most dads do serious time for that level of tough love. Then with a grimace, Clay says he should’ve cloned himself. Actually… why didn’t he? That would seem really in character. Then again, I’m guessing Clone Verris would have killed “Dad” by the time he turned twenty-one. Junior’s finally had enough and knocks Clay off him and retrieves his gun. Below, Henry and Danny’s luck finally runs out and she gets hit. Henry grabs and drags her along, with her firing cover—
—as he breaks into what looks like a hardware store. On the roof, Clay goads Junior into shooting him, and by now I have to wonder if the man has a death wish. Junior instead connects gun butt to head and knocks Clay out… and just leaves him lying there. I’m sure he’ll be fine, here on the roof, unattended. No way he’ll wake up later and cause mischief. Really.
Down below, the Gemini Goons surround the store, and inside Danny uses a towel and screwdriver as a makeshift tourniquet for her leg, while she and Henry assess their situation. Henry apologizes for getting Danny into this, but she points out her job had been to surveil him so it really wasn’t his fault, but he’s sorry all the same. He takes down a guard with his one remaining bullet, giving the others pause. He prepares to MacGuyver up some wickedness, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the contents of an Ace Hardware store: fertilizer bombs, for example. Anyone remember what Schwarzenegger did with the contents of a tool shed in Commando? Or Denzel Washington in The Equalizer? Sadly, Junior comes along and puts down the guards and spoils it.
Honestly, him putting up his hands and holding his gun in such a way that he can’t readily shoot it was a nice touch; if he turned once, he could do it again, right? Junior apologizes for bolting earlier, but Henry says it’s been a bad night for everyone. Junior reports that nobody else is out there and Henry asks about Clay. Junior reports, “He’s out of commission,” but then reluctantly admits that yeah, he’s still alive.
Elsewhere, Clay wakes up and sees a lone soldier decked out in slightly different gear.
Clay gives him the go-sign and the soldier springs into action. He shimmies down the wall and dashes across town to the nursery, where he spies on the gang through a skylight. Henry gives Junior’s gun to Danny and tells her to take the high ground. That’s when the soldier pops down and things get hairy for the gang. The two men narrowly avoid machine gun fire as the soldier engages from above. Danny shoots the guy in the head, and unlike everybody else who’s bought it tonight, this guy’s body armor actually, you know, repels bullets. The soldier turns to shoot Danny but Henry tackles the man, and proceeds to get his ass handed to him for his trouble.
Junior, apparently having retrieved a submachine gun off a corpse, fires at their new opponent, but damn, it looks like the guy’s whole suit if bulletproof. Does Clay just tell the other guys they’re wearing body armor and it’s just molded plastic so he can cut down on costs? Because if everyone else had been armored like this guy, the movie would’ve ended ten minutes ago. The soldier gets in close to Junior and it looks like he literally deflects a bullet with his armored hand.
Now it’s Junior’s turn to get schooled. He goes down, but Danny’s there again with the head shots, making her bullets count. The soldier makes for the stairs, where Henry’s on him and gets pummeled once more, but Junior takes advantage of this when he picks up a gun and shoots the soldier point blank with a grenade:
The soldier? He ain’t impressed. Both Henry and Junior close in and the soldier handles them both. Danny waits for an opening and hits him in the head again, and you’d think that at the very least, maybe getting your bell rung by her shots might be enough to at least rattle or distract the guy. It seems it does, because as the soldier turns his attention to her, Henry grabs him, allowing Junior to kick him down an aisle. Danny tells the guys to back off as she throws something that turns out to be super flammable, which she shoots in mid-air, setting fire to the aisle. The solder?
It ain’t no thang. He shrugs off another grenade shot (at least, I think they’re grenades; Junior’s gun looks like a twin-barreled combat shotgun, but the explosive effects are pretty impressive. I’ve heard of the FRAG 12 explosive shotgun rounds, which almost sound like science fiction) and keeps right on a-coming. Junior fires again, then again, then a third time, until the soldier is down. The sprinkler system dies down and Henry takes off the guy’s helmet, only to discover…
Surprise, surprise. Nice touch that he looks even younger than Junior.
The trio exchange looks of shock and varying levels of horror and remorse. Danny prepares to put a bullet into the second clone’s head, but he expires on his own. It’s then that Clay shows up and starts with the speechifying, excusing his actions, and I like how he pauses to ask if Junior’s alright, and it’s hard to tell if that was just an afterthought or there’s a genuinely good parent trapped deep in there that sometimes claws its way out.
Clay tries belatedly to get Henry on his side, saying it was all done to create a better soldier to protect America. Clay notes that the dead clone was going to be heading to Yemen, and now some guy with parents is going to have to take his place. It’s horrible enough what he’s done and any moral human being would be appalled, but dude, you’re trying to convince two black men that it’s okay to create a slave race. Junior’s had enough and he’s about to put a bullet in Clay’s head, but Henry stops him.
Junior points out the Feds will never convict Clay, and his lab will just keep churning out super-soldiers, but Henry says if the kid shoots his father, it’ll break something inside of him that will never get fixed. Henry takes the gun from Junior… and shoots Clay himself. Because yeah, seeing your dad die right in front of you won’t mess up your psyche at all.
Later, we find Del, Henry’s handler at the DIA, sitting in a bar apparently ready to drink himself to an early grave, when Henry places a can of Coke in front of him and slides his glass away. Henry tells Del they can’t be friends anymore, but he doesn’t want to see the man dead, either. Del reports the Gemini lab has been dismantled and no one will touch Junior, and there won’t be any more clones. Del is looking at charges, but if he throws Janet Lassiter under the bus, he might be able to cut a deal. Del apologizes and wishes Henry a happy retirement and the two men part ways, no longer friends but at least not enemies.
Six months later on a college campus, Henry, Danny, and Junior meet up again.
Danny’s gotten herself a promotion and the future looks bright, while Henry’s sleeping a little better these days. He hands over a passport, social security card, and driver’s license to Junior, who’s changed his name to “Jackson” to honor his mother, and who looks pretty well-adjusted for a guy who was prepared to kill his father and watched his older self do the job for him. So… is Jackson his new first name? Last? Is he Jackson Brogan now? Did he inherit Clay’s estate? Henry’s handing him all his IDs and implies
Junior Jackson is under some kind of witness protection. The film ends with Junior assuring the other two that he’ll be fine, and while they’ve got a lot of ideas on how he should live his life, he’s got plenty of his own.
So, that was Gemini Man. What did I think? Eh, it didn’t suck. The film is helped tremendously by Will Smith’s dual performance; he does a great job of giving us two unique characters. Well, three, if you want to get technical. I have to say that for a 51 year old man, Smith pulled off the unenviable task of playing a 23 year old and making me believe it. The special effects are, for the most part, top-notch, so I have no complaints there. The actions sequences are solid and the rest of the cast do a decent job. What brings it down for me is the lackluster story. The film originally was supposed to take place in the future, but I imagine the effects budget—so very much dedicated to the wizardry of making Smith look less than half his age—simply could not bear the added cost of a futuristic setting. Then again, it could be director Ang Lee might have felt such a setting would have distracted from the film’s nature vs. nurture theme. If I had to rate the move on a scale of one to ten, I’d give it maybe a six. Not the worst action movie I’ve ever seen, but far away from the best.
Sadly, the film did not do well financially; with a budget of 138 million dollars, it only grossed 173 million at the box office. I’m not sure why the movie bombed, really. It could be that by 2019, Smith’s star power had waned, and even a double-dose wasn’t enough. But Tom, you might say, what of the success of Bad Boys for Life and Aladdin? Well, those movies aren’t just Will Smith vehicles; one is a successful franchise that capitalized on nostalgia, while the other is, well, yeah, the same. Still, I wouldn’t count out Will yet; one failure doesn’t mean the end of what’s been a tremendously successful career.
Next week, I return to the world of comics as on the eve of another Disney+ show, and taking a look at a series focusing on two of Captain America’s sidekicks: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.