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Movie Review: Duplicity

Alternate Title: Cunning Cons

Story: I like a good con. The Sting is one of my favorite all time movies. This latest con job was written and directed by Tony Gilroy and to put it mildly, this is no Sting.

The plot is really quite simple but the screenplay is not. Two Intelligence agents, one from the CIA and one from MI-6 met in Dubai five years ago, had a one night fling where she drugged him and pilfered his secret documents. Fast forward five years and they meet again, this time in Grand Central Station, NYC.
They no longer are with their respective spy agencies but are now Industrial Spies. They work undercover for different conglomerates in order to infiltrate, pilfer corporate secrets, lie, steal, cheat and otherwise do the same sorts of things they did as Governemtn Agents only this time they do it over products like shampoo or frozen pizza.

I won't give more of the plot away but I will say that the simple story line gets uber-complicated by flashbacks that change the scenario every 15 minutes. Just when you think you are following everything, another flashback happens and gaping plot holes open.

The good news is that watching Clive Owen for two hours never hurt anyone. Pretty people and pretty locations make for a decent two hour escape. However, if you are looking for a spy thriller in the manner of the Bourne films, look elsewhere.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhUp1JRLbhk

Acting: Julia Roberts comes out of semi-retirement to play Claire Stenwick, former CIA agent. I have never been a big fan of Ms Roberts (so sue me) and she does nothing especially interesting in this film either. Clive Owen as former MI-6 agent, Ray Koval, brings on the charm and style that we are used to seeing. Tom Wilkinson overacts as one of the corporate heads as does Paul Giamatti. Denis O’Hare, Kathleen Chalfant, Tom McCarthy, Carrie Preston and Rick Worthy all perform more than adequately in their supporting roles.

Trivia: Paul Giamatti is the son of A. Bartlett Giamatti, late president of Yale University, major league baseball commissioner and nemesis of Pete Rose. He is a Boston Red Sox fan.

Predilection: I like movies about cons and I like Clive Owen.

Critters: None

Sex Spectrum: There are many bedroom scenes but actual 'sex' is not shown.

Opening Titles: An opening sequence that introduces us to the characters. All the actual titles are at the end.

Visual Art: There Will Be Blood's director of photography, Robert Elswit, shows his talent again.

Theater Audience: About 30 other people.

Weather: The weather was fine in Rome, NYC, Dubai and Cleveland. Cleveland? Yes, Cleveland.

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I began to drift after the fourth flashback.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. For some of screen writer Michael Gilroy's other screenplays you can rent: Michael Clayton, The Bourne Ultimatum,The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Identity as well as Proof of Life, The Devil's Advocate and Dolores Claiborne .

Length: Five minutes over the two hour rule. The film actually seemed longer.