Paramount has released the first full clip from Gemini Man, Ang Lee’s much-anticipated sci-fi thriller, that sees Will Smith taking on a younger Will Smith through the magic of visual effects.
The clip, which can be watched in full above, outlines the plot. 50-year-old Smith plays Henry Brogan, an elite assassin, who is suddenly targeted and pursued by a mysterious young operative that can seemingly predict his every move.
“25 years ago your father took my blood and he cloned me,” Smith tells his younger self, referring to Clayton "Clay" Varris, the director of the GEMINI program, played by Clive Owen.
“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?”
“Because I’m the best,” replies the younger clone, referred to in the film as Junior.
“You are obviously not the best,” says Brogan pointing a gun at his rival’s head.
Unlike the de-ageing process deployed on Samuel L Jackson in Captain Marvel, or on Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which digitally alters the actor’s physical appearance and performance to take years off their ages, Gemini Man is taking a different tack.
“The younger character is not me,” Smith recently explained during a Q&A and reported by Slash Film. “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.”
On set Smith gave a performance as Junior in a performance capture suit covered in reference dots, and then Weta Digital - the VFX wizards behind Avatar and War For The Planet of the Apes - used that as the basis for a new, entirely digital character.
Using Smith’s early performances in Independence Day, Bad Boys, and Fresh Prince of Bel Air as points of reference, Weta built Junior from the ground up, pixel by pixel.
Read more: How de-ageing VFX works
Creating an entire human performance in CGI is fraught with danger, and risks plunging the film into the dreaded uncanny valley, but this first clip makes us cautiously optimistic.
Director Ang Lee is no stranger to innovative VFX work, so if anyone can pull it off, it’s him.
Gemini Man is in cinemas 10 October. Watch a trailer below.