Gemini Man is Ang Lee's second film shot and projected in 120fps, but it should have been his first. Billy Lynn suffered from the same initial press as The Hobbit. People complained of headaches and feeling disoriented -- the latter, considering the film's intense, unsettling subject matter, was kind of the point. Because our eyes aren't used to taking in such an overwhelming amount of information, we need time to adjust, and Gemini Man perfectly sets that up in its first few scenes. The first action you see is a short scene of a hitman targeting a man on a moving train, which, save for one cheeky fisheye shot that pumps the 3D for all it's worth, is presented in a familiar way. It's the kind of thing we'd see in a Bond or a Mission: Impossible movie.
It's not until later, when the real action setpieces come in, that the movie shines. There's a rooftop shootout in Colombia, a motorcycle chase down the tightest city streets I've ever seen, an all-out brawl in skull-lined catacombs lit only by the flashlight attached to a gun. Everything you see is so clear and so bright it -- genuinely, no hyperbole -- feels like you're right there watching it. You can see the benefits of the frame rate especially in the pans: whenever the camera moves, there's absolutely none of that pesky blur that can ruin an action scene. What's wonderful about Gemini Man is that Lee and his enormous team of animators want us to see the artistry and the work behind the new version of young Will Smith they've created. No one's face is ever obscured for a quick stuntman switch or cheat during a fight scene -- the kind of trick a movie with lesser effects definitely would have done. Lee shoots a lot of this movie in the daytime, or in well-lit sets that show off every shot you see.
I do kind of wish that I was able to watch this movie again in 2D, in standard definition, without all the effects, to see if the story actually measures up to all the technological breakthroughs that are selling it. Even with all the flashy stuff, though, Will Smith reminds us how much of a star he is, tonally switching between his gruff, older persona and his younger, fiery, more emotional one. The rest of the cast are given their due as well: Clive Owen is the perfect ivory tower villain, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an action heroine who can hold her own with the beefiest of them, and Benedict Wong is delightfully funny. Amidst all of this debate about movie theater versus streaming experiences, Gemini Man is truly an event film, the technology a showcase for the story, with no aspect outshining the other. Like Avatar, this is the kind of thing 3D was made for: a rip-roaring, visually sumptuous good time that brings all of the genre's flaws and cheats and tricks into the light and corrects them one by one.