In Gemini Man, Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, a middle-aged assassin who’s being hunted by another assassin, also played by Will Smith. Sort of. The second Will Smith, called “Junior” in the movie, is a digitally rendered version of his 20-something self.
“We do the whole body, not just the face,” director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Life of Pi) said about CGI Smith on Wednesday, while also throwing shade (?) at The Irishman. “We do it from scratch – that’s why I don’t like to call it de-aging. It’s not just brush up. Age does more mysteries than just wrinkles. It’s kind of sad what life does to you. Every layer of skin, bones, it’s how you age, your eyes, the enamel on your teeth. Just the subtle changes.” Needless to say, it was a time-intensive process, made all the more rigorous with the film being shot in 120 frames per second, with one four-minute taking fight scene between the Smiths taking nine months to perfect:
To de-age Smith, Lee said the visual effects team drew on photos of the actor, as well as his work in films such as Bad Boys. However, there were reasons that some of Smith’s earlier performances weren’t as instructive, particularly his turn on the early ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “He wasn’t playing this kind of part,” notes Lee. “He played a swaggering, happy-go-lucky guy and here he’s kind of a melancholy fellow.”
One of the most technologically-advanced movies ever owes a debut of gratitude to Bad Boys. What a world. Anyway, all Lee and his team’s effort paid off, because the early reactions to Gemini Man are overwhelmingly positive.
Gemini Man in 120 FPS 3D is a true event film, friends. Late 90s action mold filled with everything Ang Lee brings to the table.
— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) September 18, 2019
GEMINI MAN didn’t give me a migraine, which means it’s a great movie
— Emma Stefansky (@stefabsky) September 18, 2019
GEMINI MAN is a technical marvel. In its high frame rate of 120fps, the action sequences legitimately took my breath away. The 20-year-old script leaves something to be desired but seeing a young Will Smith pull off the dramatic moments was a treat.
— Hoai-Tran Bui (@htranbui) September 18, 2019
In GEMINI MAN the young Will Smith throws not one, but two (2) motorcycles at the old Will Smith and that, to me, is very good. Highly recommend.
— Vinnie Mancuso (@VinnieMancuso1) September 18, 2019
Just saw Ang Lee’s #GeminiMan and it’s legit. Old Will Smith vs young Will Smith equals a visually visceral experience that’s absolutely wild to watch at times. Again, Ang Lee delivers bold, unique action that’s on par w/ the best. See it in 3D, for sure. pic.twitter.com/wRNlNfJQ9w
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 18, 2019
Just saw #GeminiMan and it’s wiiiiiiild. The young version of Wil Smith is incredible, plus some truly beautiful action sequences and a really great performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The only 3D movie I’ll ever endorse.
— Anne Cohen (@anneesthercohen) September 18, 2019
Just saw the final cut of Ang Lee’s #GeminiMan and it’s probably the only movie I’d ever say absolutely must be seen in 3D (and 4K, if possible). I’ve never seen anything like it — it felt like I was inside the movie.
— Jordan Zakarin (@jordanzakarin) September 18, 2019
Ang Lee’s #GeminiMan is a huge breakthrough for 120FPS presentation. Action sequences are breathtaking in the format. Will Smith’s winning performance shows the level of scrutiny a real movie star can stand up to. If you don’t see it in theaters you’re missing a true experience. pic.twitter.com/k6nlyH6kD9
— Max Evry (@maxevry) September 18, 2019
Even if Gemini Man turns out to be a stinker, at least it gave us this.
Gemini Man comes out on October 11.