Will Smith’s film career has been variable. While he has starred in many popular blockbusters, he’s also been at the helm of several massive flops that quickly get consigned to the dustbin of history. However, sometimes these forgotten flops get rediscovered on streaming services, and currently, Gemini Man is shooting up the Netflix charts. According to Flixpatrol, right now, the movie is in Netflix’s top 30 films.
Released in 2019, Gemini Man was directed by the legendary Ang Lee, and it was written by veteran screenwriters David Benioff, Billy Ray, and Darren Lemke. It also features an all-star cast as alongside Smith, there is also Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong. On paper, Gemini Man had everything going for it, making its flop status even more surprising.
In the movie, Will Smith plays Henry Brogan. A 51-year-old Marine Scout Sniper who forged an impressive career as an assassin for the Defense Intelligence Agency. However, after a job goes wrong, he decides to retire from the business. While adapting to civilian life, Henry learns that his last mission might not be all that it seemed. Soon, Henry finds himself being hunted by the government and by a foe who seems to be a younger version of himself, one who has all of his skills and abilities. However, this younger version doesn’t feel fear nor pain. Forcing Henry to get to the bottom of the mystery and fight as he has never fought before.
The film was hated by critics when it was first released. The film has a mere 26% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics said that the film’s plot wasn’t well thought out and felt dated, which makes sense as Darren Lemke originally came up with the concept in 1997, but the film spent a long time in development hell before finally getting filmed. Many also criticized the film’s effects, especially the de-aging effect used to make Will Smith look younger. On top of this, the film was shot at 120fps. Which, in the eyes of many critics, only served to highlight how bad the effects looked. It also made the whole movie look overly bright and cheap, with many saying it looked like a cheap soap opera.
The film was also a disaster at the box office, only making $173.2 million worldwide, way below its production cost of $275 million. Meaning that Paramount was estimated to have lost $111.1 million on the film. This box office failure was partially blamed on the hype surrounding the release of the film Joker, which overshadowed every other movie coming out at the same time. However, other films including The Addams Family didn’t do as badly as Gemini Man did. Despite this, those who saw the film are generally more favorable to it. The film has an 83% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviewers saying that the film, while generic, is a fun sci-fi action movie provided you don’t think about the plot too much.
Gemini Man is a fascinating film due to its strange production history. While the effects it used would become commonplace in the movie industry, their usage in this film simply wasn’t good enough to wow critics and audiences. While the film has an intriguing concept, Gemini Man is much better enjoyed as another Will Smith action movie rather than the sci-fi thriller it wants to be.