Paramount has released the first official clip from the upcoming uber-ambitious sci-fi action thriller, Gemini Man. Thanks to the wonders of de-aging technology, the film finds Hollywood megastar Will Smith as a renowned, ultra-elite assassin who must face off against a younger version of himself after his previous employer pits them against each other for reasons as-yet-unknown.
The clip itself finds the older Will Smith, named Henry Brogan, with the upper hand over his younger self, aptly named Junior, as the former explains the circumstances that led to Junior's creation.
"25 years ago your father took my blood and he cloned me. He made you from me. He chose me 'cause there's never been anybody like me, and he knew that one day I was gonna get old, and then you'd step in. He's been lying to you the whole time. He told you you were an orphan. And of all the people in the world to come after me, why would he send you?"
The father to which the older Smith refers to is Clive Owen's character, Clayton 'Clay' Varris, the director of the GEMINI program and old acquaintance of Smith's Henry Brogan. The exact reasons as to why he wants Brogan dead remain a mystery, but no doubt the strained relationship between Varris and the two Smith's will play a large part in these proceedings.
The clip ends with the kind of quippy comment that audiences have come to expect from Will Smith, as he puts his younger, cockier-self in his place. "Because I'm the best," replies the younger clone. "You are obviously not the best," says Brogan, in a very Will Smith-like way.
The film's success depends largely on both the interplay between the two Smiths, and how convincing the effects work comes across. Judging from this clip the actor looks to be putting in quite the performance as both his older and younger selves, with both feeling like very different people despite sharing the same face.
Speaking of Will Smith's face, there is still some confusion as to how the younger version has been created. Unlike the de-aging technology that the MCU has utilized so well, which digitally alters an actor's physical appearance by altering the skin and features, Gemini Man has taken a different, more complicated route. Please, allow Will Smith to provide some clarity.
"The younger character is not me. That is a 100 percent digital character. A completely recreated character. They didn't take my image and just stretch some of the lines. It is a completely CGI character in the same way that the lions in The Lion King are CGI characters."
To create Junior, Smith would wear a performance capture suit on set, much like the motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis did as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes, and then VFX wizards Weta Digital then used that as a basis to create the entirely digital character. They did this using the actor's early performances in Independence Day, Bad Boys and even Fresh Prince of Bel Air as a reference in order to create Junior, pixel by pain-staking pixel.
The digital creation of human faces is still very much in its infancy, with the effect having offered something of a mixed bag so far, but the use of CGI that is on display here is truly impressive. Creating completely digital human's always runs the risk of falling into the infamous uncanny valley, but so far director Ang Lee and his CGI team look to have avoided that masterfully. Along with the clip comes a pair of posters, with each Smith given centre stage. Gemini Man is set for release on October 11th. This all comes courtesy of Paramount.