21 March 2009 | omahonyjason
Duplicity, Stars Shine but Action is Awkward
DUPLICITY Director: Tony Gilroy Country: USA Year: 2009 Language: English Runtime: 120 Minutes Rating: 15A
A couple of weeks after the exceedingly average THE INTERNATIONAL (2009) rolled into theatres Clive Owen is back with DUPLICITY, the latest from Tony Gilroy, director of the good but vastly over-rated MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007) and writer of the wonderful trilogy of Bourne movies. DUPLICITY sells itself as an action-packed, romantic comedy where nothing is as it seems.
Which is all well and good but, generally speaking, in order for the action to be compelling the stakes have to be high enough to grab the audience by the nuts and not let go! James Bond wouldn't be James Bond if he wasn't locked in a titanic struggle with a dastardly mastermind bent on world domination. He certainly wouldn't spy on the makers of Frozen Pizza!
Clive Owen begins DUPLICITY in true James Bond fashion as MI6 secret-agent Ray Koval. He's a smooth operator who falls into bed with the most beautiful CIA spy on the planet, Julia Roberts as Claire Stenwick. The camera still loves Julia Roberts, even at 41, she's a consummate actress and, in all probability, the biggest movie star on the planet. And James Bond would be proud to bed her!
So far so good. But then the two secret agents fall for one another and decide to pack in the dangerous James Bond job for the far safer, yet far more lucrative, job of corporate espionage. They strike upon a master plan, play both sides, sell the secrets and retire to a life in the sun.
Julia Roberts is on the counter intelligence team of a giant multinational, guarding it against leaks. Clive Owen is playing for the other side trying to hack in and steal its secrets. And they're both playing one another. Or are they?
The stakes are still high they're playing for $40 million but with nothing more at risk than a new consumer product it's hard to hold the audiences' interest. I mean, seriously, does anyone care if one corporation beats another corporation to market with a wonder product? Would James Bond get out of bed for this?
Roberts and Owen have shared the screen before in CLOSER (2004) which was rather more adult themed but equally full of dueling dialogue. There's a chemistry between the pair which, while not coming close to Bogie and Bacall or, hell, even to Pitt and Jolie in MR & MRS SMITH (2005), is still fun to watch. And this is where the movie comes into its own. It's a flimsy, watch-able flick that's fun for the most part. You could do a lot worse.