Review: The Double
PLOT: Former CIA operative Paul Shepardson (Richard Gere) is called out of retirement when his former cold war foe, Cassius, starts killing again. Hes teamed with a young analyst (Topher Grace) who wrote his MA thesis on the cat & mouse between Sheparson and Cassius- but the enemy may be a lot closer than both men realize.
REVIEW: Old Rappin Ronnie would be proud. Based on THE DOUBLE and the very-similarly themed SALT, one would think that the US is being overrun by Russian sleeper agents. Since when did the Russians suddenly become Hollywoods go-to bad guys again? Heck, maybe we need to call Chuck Norris out of retirement for an INVASION USA sequel!
Sadly,no Chuck Norris in THE DOUBLE, but we do get Richard Gere, who- in his advancing years, has suddenly become a lot more believable as a hard-edged action lead than he was in his eighties/nineties heyday (Ever watch NO MERCY? Dont!). I actually like this new direction Gere seems to be heading in, and while I was never a big fan of his, Im starting to come around thanks to movies like THE HUNTING PARTY and BROOKLYNS FINEST (which I thought he owned).
The use of Gere is actually pretty good casting, as hes supposed to be playing a Cold Warrior, and at sixty-two, its not a stretch to imagine he was once a top field-agent during the height of the eighties Evil Empire hysteria. Gere acquits himself nicely and actually has a couple of nifty action scenes, including a brief scrap with Stephen Moyer ("True Blood"), who plays a heavily scarred assassin and a more formidable one with English Hard-man Tamer Hassan (making a believable former Russian Spetnatz soldier).
However, Gere is without a doubt the only thing that makes THE DOUBLE noteworthy. On the whole, it plays out like a slightly above average DTV movie. Its written by Derek Haas, and Michael Brandt (who doubles as director), a hotshot Hollywood screenwriting pair (3:10 TO YUMA, WANTED). Their script for THE DOUBLE is pretty much old hat; cat and mouse by-the-numbers stuff. A huge curveball is thrown at the audience about a half-hour into the film, but its all-too predictable, and too reminiscent of the more polished SALT.
THE DOUBLE also happens to be Brandts directorial debut, but theres a real TV-vibe coming off of it. Too many CSI-style editorial tricks are used, making it come off as more than a little cheesy at times. This also isnt helped by the musical score by the usually solid John Debney, who also comes a little too close to ripping off Massive Attacks Teardrop for my liking (John Murphy did the same thing in ARMORED although it could be that this is a stock library cue). The bluesy-guitar riffs during the final showdown are also a little heavy-handed, although according to the credits the solos were performed by Alex Lifeson of RUSH. Go figure.
I also didnt care for Topher Grace as Geres analyst partner. I know he usually gets a bad rap, but I he's been very solid in movies like IN GOOD COMPANY and TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT. He just doesn't have the presence for an action flick like THE DOUBLE, and someone with a bit more heft was really needed to go head-to-head with Gere. Still, hes not awful.
Overall, THE DOUBLE isnt a bad time-filler and would make a perfectly acceptable Sunday afternoon watch on satellite. Its basically a slightly above-average DTV-caper, although its distinguished a bit by Geres presence and performance. Its not bad, but its not great either.
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