The dramatic actioner sees present-day Smith hunted by a cunning and unidentifiable enemy throughout a European city, and soon discovers it’s a younger version of himself.
“Gemini Man” has been in development since 1997, when the project was purchased as a proof of concept for Walt Disney Studios, with directors like Tony Scott and Curtis Hanson attached. It languished for years before the rights were acquired by Paramount co-production and financing partner Skydance Media. Lee and Smith boarded the movie shortly after. The complex visual effects required to create two versions of the same man, decades apart in age, helped keep the project on the shelf at Disney.
“I’m 50 years old now, and I don’t know that I would have had the experience to play a 23-year-old me [earlier in my career],” Smith said in a pre-taped message to the exhibitors.
Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Benedict Wong co-star in the film, as advisors to Smiths both young and old.
“You have all of his gifts, and none of his pain,” Owen told the younger Smith in a rough-cut trailer. The effects were jarring at first for the crowd, inspiring pensive silence as the whole of the Colosseum Theater studied the CGI. Smith looked every inch a kid as the younger character, as fresh-faced and clear-eyed as he did upon his debut in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
The film’s elder Smith had seen better days. Though plotlines were largely unclear, Smith was some kind of a rare trained assassin that the U.S. government was not willing to lose — even if that meant making a copy.