A forgettable A-list, high-budget film

This thriller attempts to meld the premise behind The Bourne Identity (2002) with 17 Again (2009) - you have the idea of the morally conflicted killing machine yoked to a body-switch plot.

Since a digitally de-aged Smith is in the movie's poster and trailers, it is not a spoiler to say that Smith's Brogan is involved in a one-on-one fight to the death with a younger version of himself.

Not the most original premise in the world, but there exist a number of highly entertaining B-movies with killers fighting a doppelganger, evil twin or robot versions of themselves. And most times, it is easy to tell them apart because the evil one will have glowing red eyes.

This high-budget, A-list actor attempt at what is usually a pulpy sub-genre of science-fiction feels limp for the reason that it is an A-list, high-budget movie, slumming.

Committing to the cheesiness of its premise should have been rule No. 1, but once Smith and Oscar-winning director Lee Ang entered the picture, along with them came Respectable Movie ideas, such as decorous flirting with a female co-star played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and themes of family and fatherhood, expounded at length in overwrought monologues.

After a taut, promising opening, the film lapses into one kind of triteness after another. There are the flavourless semi-disposable sidekicks, for example, played by Benedict Wong and Winstead. Only Clive Owen, playing the mastermind out to get Brogan, digs into his role with an appropriate level of gusto, namely, way over the top.

As one might expect of the director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Life Of Pi (2012), Lee spends as much time as he can balancing the vehicle chases and fight scenes with poetic visuals and weighty dialogue.

  • REVIEW / SCIENCE-FICTION THRILLER

  • GEMINI MAN (PG13)

    117 minutes/Opens today/2.5 Stars

    The story: Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an assassin for the United States government. He is the best of the best, but something about his last job feels morally suspect, so he quits. But he soon finds himself the target of his own organisation. It deploys a killer whose physical talents bear an uncanny resemblance to Brogan's, except he is younger and fitter. The chase takes Brogan to Colombia and Budapest.

But, oof, what dialogue. "Your soul is hurt," says someone, referring to Brogan's post-assassination moodiness.

That, and the low-stakes nature of the scenes - no one is going to believe that Smith's Brogan is in any danger of dying, no matter how formidable his nemesis - render this pretty, expertly photographed tour of Colombia and Budapest a forgettable venture.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2019, with the headline 'A forgettable A-list, high-budget film'. Print Edition | Subscribe