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Duplicity
DVD disk
08.25.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
Duplicity order download
Director:
Tony Gilroy

Actors:
Clive Owen
Julia Roberts
Tom Wilkenson

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two rogue spies try to work both sides of the field in a feud between two multimillion dollar companies over a secret project/patent they intend to steal for themselves and sell for enough cash to disappear together forever.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I don’t remember hearing much in the way of advertising for DUPLICITY. A friend mentioned it to me while it was in theaters, but thought it was a love story so naturally I dismissed it almost instantly. Sure, there’s a romantic angle, I suppose, but this film is also a slick comedy wrapped in high stakes espionage. For awhile, I found myself thinking of ENTRAPMENT, but then I realized this film was nowhere near as interesting. The cast was certainly well chosen, and the initial story is clever (maybe a little too clever, after all people DID complain MISSION IMPOSSIBLE was too complex and confusing), but pace is what arguably becomes this film’s Achilles heel. The back and forth time jumps, the plotting CEO’s and the general air of secrecy all came off fairly bland, and in turn had me constantly checking the time as I waited for something to happen.

You get the impression at the beginning of the film that our two rival bosses, played by Tom Wilkenson and Paul Giamatti, are key players who you’ll see a lot of. Not the case. Though the plot quite literally revolves around them and their competitive secrecy (and hate) for one another, we don’t see much of them (which is a shame because those guys are fantastic). I’m not complaining about seeing more of Clive Owen, I’ve been a huge fan since KING ARTHUR, I even got the chance to meet him and Til Schweiger in Toronto. Owen excels in each and every one of his roles, and was no different here. Julia Roberts is another story. I enjoy her as an actress, and as far as talent goes, she nailed this part and had some pretty cool chemistry going on with Owen. My only beef was how plastic and worn she looked in all the well lit scenes. I just don’t feel she fits the profile she’s trying to sell (looks-wise). I wouldn’t call her hideous, but this was a far cry from PRETTY WOMAN or even OCEAN’S ELEVEN.

Writer/director Tony Gilroy is no stranger to espionage and trade secrets, having written all three BOURNE films. He knows what he’s doing behind the camera and can write the hell out of a script, but something just felt a little off here. Two companies at war is far from compelling, and then they drop this mystery patent on you at the end of the movie, but quite frankly, this “secret” they’ve been building is irrelevant considering the plan is all about selling it for forty million dollars anyway. Like I said before, the ending is fine, but this makes the ride to it feel kinda cheap and very boring. That said, I did thoroughly enjoy the lack of trust relationship between Owen and Roberts. Their opening scene is vastly original, and where this one incident takes them throughout the film is both comical and entertaining.

I love a good undercover heist with twists and turns, double crosses and showdowns, and on that level this film does not disappoint. I can’t give away anymore details without ruining it, but suffice to say the ending is worth seeing. I liked everything save for the fact that it just seemed to drag after the first hour. Clive Owen is a solid leading man, and every actor has their “iffy” films (SHOOT EM UP, THE INTERNATIONAL), so I won’t hold that against him. Truth be known, he’s the primary reason I enjoyed this film as much as I did. Like Tom Cruise, Owen’s got a charisma I enjoy on screen and as a result will watch him in just about anything. My only cast complaint is the unfortunate under-use of Wilkenson and Giamatti (but their fight scene at the airport was definitely one to be proud of).
THE EXTRAS
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Tony Gilroy & Editor/Co-Producer John Gilroy: I find it interesting how they explain Owen and Robert’s opening scene together (arguably the glue that holds their characters together throughout the film) was ironically considered a “half assed” idea they first wrote for Steven Spielburg when he was set to direct. I also enjoy their logic in regards to the airport fight scene: “Everything is funnier when shot at 150 frames per second.” Agreed.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Duplicity is alright for a slow paced, low key espionage flick. And though the ending is worthy of praise, it’s by no means a USUAL SUSPECTS moment of revelation. Owen and Roberts were great together but I sincerely feel Julia was a little too old for this role. When you walk “the walk”, you’d best look like Sienna Miller did in G.I. JOE. Otherwise, it just looks a bit too forced and clumsy (straight from my girlfriend’s mouth, and I agree).

Extra Tidbit: I was hoping to see more interaction between Owen and Giamatti, as though SHOOT EM UP wasn’t exactly thought provoking entertainment, the dialogue between the those two was damn funny at times.
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