Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by Ang Lee
Written by David Benioff, Billy Ray, and Darren Lemke
Whether it is taking on an alien invasion in Independence Day to portraying historical figures like Muhammad Ali, Will Smith is perhaps one of the biggest blockbuster movie stars today. He has long been associated with successful franchises as well such as the Men in Black and Bad Boys. Yet even with a great director like Ang Lee helming this film it greatly suffers from poor writing. With a concept that on the surface seems slick and imaginative that is unfortunately where it leaves off and spirals down old worn out tropes and unimaginative story resolution.
Here comes the spoilers.
Henry Brogan is an aging elite assassin for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who has begun to grow a conscience over the lives he impacts by his job. He then makes the decision to retire, but as in all assassin films retirement never seems to be an option. Before he knows it he has discovered the agency has a person watching him whom he burns by revealing he knows they are with the agency. That evening a kill squad comes to his home to terminate him as he begins to discover he is a loose end in a secret government project named GEMINI. GEMINI just happens to be run by his old boss, Clay Varris (Clive Owen), whom they share a not so wonderful past. Clay Varris takes over the task of killing Henry when the agency fails to do so by activating his elite assassin. It isn’t long before Henry and his companions discover this new assassin is actually Henry’s clone which is a younger, faster, and stronger version of himself.
They traverse the globe to track down what the secrets of GEMINI are, and eventually Henry and his clone named Junior (of course) team up to take down Clay Varris and the GEMINI project. The twist here that can be seen coming the entire film is in the form of a cone of the clone that has been genetically engineered to remove all emotion and pain from the being. Between the emotional breakdown in Junior against his father whom to this point has shown him love and nurturing albeit with hunting for his birthdays and subtle trainings his whole life, to the full turn against his father to join his source of his DNA in Henry is a bit too far-fetched. The film here should have shown us the upbringing of Junior so we could empathize with his character more to connect to his transformation from loving his father to hating him beyond what appears to be teen angst.
Show us his father restricting him from having relationships and taking him out of public school for home schooling, sheltering him from things like going to the movies by building a theater room in their home, and experiencing life as a normal kid. That would be the underlying driving force for audiences to believe in his turn against his ‘father’ Clay is more than just angst. Finally when the reveal of the third clone, they should not have killed him but rather he escapes after witnessing Henry kill his ‘father’ Clay. This would be the lead in and setup for a sequel. The film can still end with Henry helping Junior get established with his identity and new life in college, but have the third clone surveil them from afar and we get the hint of a larger scheme involving the Russians which was hinted at earlier in the bathhouse scene in Budapest.
This film has had a long development history and taken a long time to get to the big screen, and I believe it is simply down to the poor writing on display here. No direct lead-in towards a sequel and the bow tie of a climax is just too perfect. Plus they killed off a great supporting character in Benedict Wong’s portrayal of Henrys old colleague, Baron. He should have lived to see a sequel. Considering his death was abrupt and with no real emotional weight was just proof how horrible the writing is here, and could have taken this slick idea and shaped it into a film franchise.
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