WEI WU WRITES — It has been three years since Ang Lee’s last movie “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”; his latest movie “Gemini Man” was released last month. Audiences were looking forward to seeing how an Eastern director would break down this odd Western science fiction story, but it turns out that many people, sadly but sincerely, think that Ang has fallen from the pedestal.
However, Ang Lee pointed out in an interview that “The probability of success in choosing a bad story to make a movie may be higher than a good one because of [the nature of] … film is to supplement these shortcomings.”
The evaluation of “Gemini Man” from American audiences was very lukewarm, but some French film media praised it, perhaps because it reminds them of the “French New Wave”. The film is extremely pioneering in terms of technology, and Ang called this “120fps +3D+4K” top-level configuration “Fight alone”. Ang Lee seems to have been curious about film technology since he met the tiger in his acclaimed “Life of Pi”. Apart from the technology, can we still find the Ang that we are familiar with?
This newest movie technology will bring a strong sense of realism to the audience. Whether it’s high-speed train sniping, motorbike whizzing, intense gunfights, as well as a ‘young’ clone version of Will Smith, the film has brought an audiovisual impact like VR games to the audiences, as if we the viewer are also in the movie. When the false appearance of the film provides a real illusion, the audience believes ‘the lie’ of the film. Godard once said that the film began in Griffith because he used parallel editing for the first time which made the film meaningful. What Ang wants to do, I think, is to be the Griffith of the 21st century.
“If I could meet myself from the past, I will…” is a common assumption we often make. In this movie, Ang made some reflections on the themes of cloning technology. When the audience is watching how Will Smith confronts his younger clon-self in the movie, they will think about whether there is another ‘us’ in this world in addition to our ‘real’ selves. When the young clone Will Smith fights with his “father” who created him, Ang brings is to another theme to be explored in this film – the challenge of patriarchy, which is the theme that Ang has been insisting on for years. This time, instead of choosing the Eastern way to reconcile the father and son, Ang brought to the plot Oedipus-style patricide. This time, he gave the son thoughts of killing his father.
Surprisingly, the end of “Gemini Man” is a happy ending. Like the endings of all Hollywood popcorn movies, after a series of stormy fighting scenes, the welcoming must be the perfect ending. The men and women are in love and move forward to the bright future. I was confused that Ang would choose this kind of ending. The story of Ang’s film consistently goes like an ancient Greek tragedy and brings deep emotions to the audience. I didn’t understand why he used this ending until watching the recent Ang’s interview in China. It turns out that Ang highlighted that the version of the ending now is not the original version. In the original version, Will Smith eventually left the house and property to his clone, and he never showed up again. He chose to be replaced by his clone. Ang made a compromise for the ending in order to be “popular”. Undoubtedly, the original version is touching and it is the real Ang Lee. It would remind me of the Ang who still believes that “the movie is the truth of 24 fps per second.” I seem to see Wong Chia Chi’s sacrifice for love in the movie “Lust Caution”, to see Yu Jiaolong jump off the cliff in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, to see the tiger never look back in “Life of Pie”, and to see the father raise his hand meaningfully at the airport in “The Wedding Banquet”. `These are the emotional expression of Ang Lee, but in any case, at least this film reminds us of the young Will Smith. That’s a positive.