WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Gemini Man, in theaters now.
Over the decades, we've seen just how big Hollywood is on creating riveting motorcycle chases. Some of the bike chases that stand out can be found in the Mission: Impossible franchise, not to mention movies like The Matrix, Skyfall and a slew of other films. They usually prove to be high-octane action sequences adding a lot of style to these movies, plus such chases do get the adrenalin pumping.
This year, Ang Lee's Gemini Man kicks it up a notch with a hyperrealistic chase in Colombia between Will Smith's Henry Brogan and his younger clone, Junior, and it's one that proves to be one of the top contender's for Hollywood's best ever in this particular field.
Lee shot Gemini Man in 120fps 4K 3D, as he's a big believer in High Frame Rate (HFR), believing it draws the audience deeper into the movie. And as he pits Henry vs. Junior on the road, it turns out to be quite a spectacle, leaving you on the edge of your seat. Henry's in Colombia hiding out with his handler, Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and ends up fleeing when the younger and more skilful hitman in Junior comes to kill and replace him as America's top assassin.
Junior gets a bike of his own and, as seen from trailers, they duke it out parkour style in the South American streets. Jumping from villa rooftops to the asphalt, the cinematography is spot on as we get epic close-ups of both riders, making us truly feel it's a 50 year-old Will Smith facing his 23 year-old self. The tight angles and the claustrophobic feel when the camera (at a first person perspective) goes through slim alleys all feel more fluid and dynamic than the aforementioned films as Lee puts the audience front and center to the action.
This approach offers viewers a POV unlike any other, making it seem we're right alongside the bikers as they cut through traffic, buildings and everything from side streets to main roads, all while trying to trip or shoot each other.
When Junior eventually corners Henry, however, the way he uses the bike as an extension of himself is quite compelling and adds a huge sense of flair to the film. He uses the bike to beat Henry up, sweep his legs and crush body parts, including a grimacing scene that almost takes out Henry's groin area. It's like a ballet recital -- a dance of death which ends with Junior releasing the bike and, like an obedient Transformer, the bike, on its hind wheel alone, careens into the car Henry's backed up against, narrowly missing its target.
The big shot comes, however, when Junior attempts a sweep using the rear wheel to smash Henry's head against a parked car. He smacks the tyre into Henry's face in the equivalent of a roundhouse kick, but as he goes low, Lee drops a slow motion scene that culminates in Henry performing a no-handed pushup.
He uses his upper body strength to avoid a lethal sweep from the rear tyre in an action sequence that redeems a lot of the movie. It's simply brilliant watching Junior, created by Henry's ex-boss, Clay (Clive Owen), wield his bike like a weapon in combat.
Honestly, the trailers don't do this sequence justice and it's a thrilling ride (literally) made for X-Games fans, turning out to be one of the film's few and far between jaw-dropping moments and reminding us why Junior is indeed the better version of Henry.
In theaters now, Gemini Man is directed by Ang Lee from a script written by David Benioff, Billy Ray and Darren Lemke. The film stars Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong.