Duplicity Review
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After seeing Clive Owen in director Tom Tykwer’s less-than-thrilling thriller, The International, I began to second-guess my film critic’s intuition. Sure, after all these years, I’ve definitely learned that there’s really no such thing as a sure thing. But if the guy who made Run Lola Run could team up with one of my favorite actors and end up creating such a dry and tedious movie, it just didn’t seem to bode well for other seemingly sure-fire pairings—like Clive Owen and Julia Roberts in a movie by Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton writer/director Tony Gilroy. But, fortunately, despite my apprehension, Gilroy didn’t disappoint.

They say that all’s fair in love and war—and Duplicity has a little bit of both. It’s a tangled web of romance and counter-intelligence, and two ex-spies with a complicated past are caught up in the middle.

When they first met on a steamy night in Dubai in 2003, Claire Stenwick (Roberts) was CIA, and Ray Koval (Owen) was MI6. Since then, however, they’ve both gone corporate—and they’re now working counter-intelligence for two fiercely competitive multi-national corporations.

When news leaks out that Claire’s company is about to announce a ground-breaking new product, her colleagues scramble to protect the secret formula while Ray’s colleagues scramble to steal it. But, of course, when it comes to espionage, nothing is ever quite as it seems—and Claire and Ray are running their own operation on the side.

Since the story skips back and forth through time, gradually filling in more pieces of the plot as it goes, Duplicity is a difficult movie to explain without giving too much away. After all, with a movie like this one, putting the pieces together is part of the fun.

Duplicity isn’t a fast-paced, action-packed thriller, filled with car chases and fist fights. Instead, it’s a captivating puzzle, with layer upon layer of lies and deceit to keep you on your toes. At times, it’s a bit confusing—because, as in Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, there’s a lot going on. But, fortunately, Duplicity is warmer and more entertaining than Michael Clayton. So while you’ll have to pay close attention in order to keep up, it definitely won’t feel like a chore.

In addition to all the scheming and spying, though, there’s still another side to the story: the romantic side. Although Claire and Ray have been trained not to trust anyone else, they’re attempting to get beyond their training and suspicion to build some sort of a relationship. Since their first encounter ended poorly—when Claire drugged Ray and ran off with an envelope full of important documents—they have even more trust issues than the average couple, and their constant accusations and evasion add plenty of comic relief to what could have been an exhaustingly complex film.

Duplicity is a rare commodity among films released this time of year. It’s smart and entertaining, and although the 125-minute runtime could have used a bit more trimming, it’ll easily hold your attention anyway. If you love a good puzzle, I recommend giving Duplicity a try.

Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity isn’t exactly packed with extras. It does, however, include a commentary track, featuring Gilroy and his editor/co-producer/brother, John Gilroy. Throughout the commentary, the two give away their “secrets,” discussing things like the opening scene, which almost didn’t make the final cut—and how it changed the whole movie in the end. They also talk about the changes they made in post-production and the test audiences’ reactions to different parts of the film.

And, of course, the disc also offers a few Blu-ray-specific capabilities. You can save your own clips and bookmarks—and, if your player is connected to the Internet, you can access BD Live, which offers ever-changing extras.

While the Duplicity release isn’t loaded with special features, though, that doesn’t really matter. This smooth and seductive caper is still well worth checking out.

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