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As with any spy film, a certain amount of complexity in the script is to be expected. However this spy film adds on plot twists, flash backs, back stabbing and double agents with so much frequency that it left me scratching my head by its end. As an on screen team Julia Roberts and Clive Owen work well together but even their performances were drowned out by the sheer complexity of the script. There are also welcome surprises from the supporting cast, each of whom seemed to have their fair share of witty dialogue. Ultimately the movie is less about a romance between rival spies, and is more about keeping its audience wondering just how the plot can twist next. As the final credits role one looming question remains: "What happened here?" even complex spy thrillers such as "Mission Impossible" had some kind of wrap up at its end that cleared up any lingering doubt or questions and we were happier for it. 'Duplicity' is a fun little spy film, with some fine performances by Roberts and Owen and plenty of well written dialogue, but it is brought down by the overly complex plot and I fear will leave even fans of the genre feeling slightly numb when the credits role.
Two corporate spies (Owen & Roberts) hook up (after knowing each other a while back) to pull off a scheme to get 40 Million dollars. The mission is to infiltrate a company that each other work in, and expose a secret product the company is releasing. Soon things get out of plan, and the two spies realize they have more feelings for each other than they recently thought. I've been a fan of Clive Owen ever since Children of Men, and I was so gratified to see Julia Roberts back on the screen. A few years ago both Clive and Julia did a movie together called "Closer", and it was satisfying to see them back together again. Their performances together are the only uplifting value of this film. Although we could have used more of Paul Giamatti and definitely more Tom Wilkinson, the entire cast was perfect for this film. This movie had too much potential in the first half, but after that it becomes a confusing and mind boggling mess of a movie. There were so many twists, and confused story telling even I heard some of the audience members yell out "Huh? What was that about?" The script was good, but the story was horribly told that it came to a very disappointing outcome. That's a shame because I was expecting to enjoy a good suspense movie that wasn't confusing. Duplicity is a often funny and well acted movie, but you'll have to find either the film's director or the screenwriter to translate the story for you, or else you won't get it. It surprisingly turns romantic in the end which makes it a fairly good date movie, but you'll be more confused than dazzled. I have to say skip this movie, and if you want to see Julia Roberts at her best rent Erin Brockovich. If you want to see Clive Owen at his best rent Inside Man. Need I say more?
I was lured to see this on the promise of a smart, witty slice of old
fashioned fun and intrigue - I was conned. A knowing, pretentious,
tedious, overlong story which suffocates under its own artifice.
Starring Julia Roberts ( Claire Stenwick) ,and Clive Owen (Ray Koval),
as "Duplicitous" spies, the film tries to recreate the glitter, froth
and intrigue of roles made famous by the likes of Cary Grant in the
1950's, yet fails under leaden direction and total lack of chemistry
between the leads.
Director "Michael Clayton" Tony Gilroy also has writing credits for The Bourne series, so his credentials are excellent. But Clive Owen seems ill at ease as a romantic, witty lead apparently yearning for the opportunity to play the more robust part he played in the under rated "International". Julia Roberts shines in one of her better performances, offering more than her obvious glamour but without the quality of script to enable her to truly excel. She seems barely bothered about enticing Owen into bed, and the word play between them consistently falls flat.
An extensive travelogue incorporating London, Rome, New York, Dubai and Geneva provides some scenic interest, as these erstwhile CIA and MI6 spies swap political espionage for industrial espionage turning into criminal espionage. At 126 minutes it is at least 35 minutes too long. Sharper editing, greater pace, and less "flab" might have made this a better picture. But we are left with it as it is, an instantly disposable, and forgettable addition to the respective parties film credits.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well. This movie has only one thing going for it and that's the charm of Clive Owens. But it's hard to believe that the genius behind Michael Clayton had anything to do with this. The writing is horrible, and at 2 1/2 hours, it's too long by about, um, 2 1/2 hours. It's aiming for Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, but fails on all counts. And I hate to say it, but I think Julia Roberts has been very ill-served by the make up artists and costumers on this movies. And I really think that Hollywood needs to call a moratorium on flashbacks as a major plot device. The movie seems to consist entirely of flashbacks, many of which involve the same lines of dialogue, which turn out to be a script devised by the main characters. the flashbacks, crosses, and double crosses make your head hurt if you think about them too much.
I don't watch many crime thrillers, because they usually turn out to be not remotely believable or personal, but Duplicity was a pleasant departure from the stereotype. It was really more of a romantic comedy (-ish dramedy, even) within the structure of a crime thriller. The two lead characters were actually pretty believable, aside from their supernatural cockiness that you kind of have to expect from spies in a spy movie (although I was sad that we got so little background or history on either character). Their troubles definitely weren't common, but they were easy to sympathize with, somehow. On top of that, it was delightful and kind of thrilling to see how their relationship was built. (The movie put together their history piece by piece, rather than giving it to us chronologically, which I generally think is a more fun way of witnessing a story.) The other big part of what made this movie so fun was that the objects of our spies' investigation was a couple of skincare corporations! Finally, we get to see tactical drama surrounding something other than a casino, a bank, or a government. Something like a cosmetics company is mundane enough that it becomes fun to play with in the context of large-scale crime drama. Even our favorite CEO's nerdy remarks ("Well, it's a common misconception that "lotion" and "cream" are the same thing") are kind of endearing and bring you back to the fact that this could be an actual corporation run by actual business nerds. So yes, safe to say that this movie was worth watching, and had me walking out of the theater wishing I was a spy. Go watch it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton" writer & director Tony Gilroy serves
audiences a soufflé of sorts in the shallow new Julia Roberts & Clive
Owen romantic comedy about jet-setting, globe-trotting corporate spies.
Roberts and Owen, who previously co-starred together in Mike Nichols'
drama "Closer" (2004), keep turning the tables on each other. They love
one another so much that they don't trust each other. Ultimately,
however, they have the tables turned on them. Mind you, this should
come as no surprise to anybody who suffers through this predictable,
125-minute, PG-13 rated comedy of errors. Sadly, "Duplicity" strives to
be too smart for its own good, and everything collapses like a soufflé
amid Gilroy's Machiavellian plotting. In a way, "Duplicity" imitates
last year's assassination thriller "Vantage Point," but it substitutes
crisp verbal repartee for crackling violence. The action in this lively
industrial espionage epic occurs in splintered chronological spirals
that create more confusion than they clear up. Meaning, time jumps
around so erratically that you may get lost along the way. The
clean-scrubbed charismatic principals generate a lot of chemistry, but
they keep having the same conversations in different settings around
the world. Indeed, "Duplicity" is not the kind of movie you can follow
if you are either sending text messages or get hung up in a line at the
concession stand. You'll come back in lost, and your date will have a
devil of a time summarizing what you didn't see. After a while,
"Duplicity" becomes annoying, even if it boasts splendid photography,
scenic settings, and slick editing.
Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts of "Charlie Wilson's War") is a seasoned CIA agent, and Ray Koval (Clive Owen of "Sin City") is her cloak & dagger counterpart at British MI-6. Wait a minute, who's going to accept Julia Roberts as a CIA agent? Well, since "Duplicity" is a comedy, okay. The role fits Owen like a glove, however, but then he was in the running once to play James Bond. Conversely, Roberts looks like she ought to be selling Tupperware. The action opens five years in the past when Claire and Koval meet for the first time at the American Consulate during a Fourth of July party in Dubai,one of the United Arab Emirates. Koval picks her up, but she outwits him and steals top-secret Egyptian air defense codes that he had stashed under the box springs of his mattress. Actually, naughty little Claire drugged unsuspecting Koval, and he hasn't recovered from her audacity. He catches up with Claire five years later in New York City's Grand Central Station, but she acts like she doesn't remember him. Since their initial encounter in Dubai, our protagonists have retired from international intrigue and have become agents in industrial intrigue.
"Duplicity" concerns the cutthroat competition between two multinational corporations, Equikrom and Burkett & Randle, and they are determined to corner world markets. In fact, they worry more about what the other is doing than what they ought to be doing. Think of them as the fictional equivalents of Pepsi-Cola versus Coca-Cola, but they manufacture everything from soap to medical products. Claire and Koval decide to exploit this feud for their own gain. They go to work for Equikrom. Koval serves as her supervisor, while she goes undercover as a mole into Burkett & Randle. The problem is that neither Claire nor Koval evoke any interest as characters. They constantly spar with each other, but they have no more depth than Gilroy's giddy dialogue. You know a movie is in trouble when the supporting characters prove far more provocative than the primary characters. Equikrom's devious leprechaun like CEO Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti of "Shoot'em Up") and Burkett & Randall's head honcho Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson of "Michael Clayton") are rivals to the death. Gilroy shows how much they abhor each other over the slow-motion title credits. They meet on the tarmac at an airport and tangle like wrestlers while their staffs watch in horror. When he learns about a fabled new product Burkett & Randall are about to unveil, Garsik launches a full-scale espionage compaign with Claire and Koval to find out what it is.
"Duplicity" is Julia Roberts' first starring role since the woebegone "Mona Lisa Smile" in 2003. She looks sparkling but terribly miscast. The real scene stealers are Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson. Carrie Preston has some memorable moments as a gullible travel agent that our hero in disguise seduces to gain access to a Burkett & Randall building. The use of multiple flashbacks obliterates any coherence in a movie that should have been as light and dry as a martini. Clearly, Gilroywho has written better movies such as "Dolores Claiborne" (1995) and the Matt Damon "Bourne" spy trilogytries to conceal the absence of substance by swirling past and present timelines. In the end, "Duplicity" is a harmless but loquacious exercise in silliness that contains none of the violence of the Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie spy comedy "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." The hero and heroine wind up in bed a couple of times for amoral premarital sex, but nudity is confined to an out-of-focus glimpse of a bare-breasted Roberts. Profanity is held to a half-dozen words, so there is nothing really offensive on hand. "Dark Knight" composer James Newton Howard's orchestral score infuses "Duplicity" more energy than anything Roberts and Owen pull off as a pair. The eleventh hour revelation about the product that Burkett & Randal is manufacturing proves rather lame. Happily, "Duplicity" is the kind of movie that you'll forget in no time.
Having just finished the enormously disappointing 'The International,' a 2009 espionage thriller starring Clive Owen, I can't believe I saw 'Duplicity' another 2009 espionage thriller starring Clive Owen. Sue me, I'm a Julia Roberts fan, I actually like Owen we all make mistakes so no judgments on some projects, and I love a good 'Ocean's Eleven'-type spy/dark comedy. Fortunately, after having to take several breaks in 'Duplicity' and wanting to turn this off for good, I stuck through to the end. I'm glad I did. Few horrible movies, as I thought this was slowly becoming, reach out and grab me in the closing. Perfect movie? By no means; it's barely average, but if you allow yourself, like I did, to reach the climax, you'll probably be equally surprised. After roughly three-dozen "two weeks ago," "ten years ago," etc, flashbacks, you'll learn Roberts and Owen are capers in love attempting to make a heist (and life) together using their trained skills. After awhile, they settle down between two rivaling companies bent on cosmetology, products, etc. You, the viewer, pick up clues along the way on whose side who's on and who you can trust. Big problems with the film started with an maddening slow-mo Wilkinson/Giamatti intro, then the endless boxed in scenes (dang, I know style, but this was as ridiculous and annoying as Lee's 'Hulk' comic book, uh, approach to minimizing the screen) and with the extreme lack of chemistry between the two leads. Sure, Owens is swift and good, but Roberts looks fresh off the 'Ocean's' set, with almost zero charisma she was built on in the early 90s. In fact, she just looks tired. Motherhood might do that. Nevertheless, it had its moments, and the end ties all the confusion you'll have. I certainly did until the last act.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's no denying it: Julia Roberts - here playing former CIA agent
Claire Stenwick - is a star and we've missed her in recent years.
British actor Clive Owen - ex MI6 agent Ray Koval - is watchable
enough, so the pairing works quite well, especially when delivering
some sharp lines from writer Tony Gilroy who also directs (the same
twin talents that he exercised on "Michael Clayton"). Supporting roles
are ably filled by Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson as rival
entrepreneurs locked in a bitter conflict that seemingly only one-time
spies can bring to a resolution. Throw in some glitzy locations - New
York, Rome, the Bahamas - and slick and stylish cinematography and one
has a good-looking movie, but not necessarily one that delivers.
In a film that could be called "Ocean's Two", the strength of the work is also paradoxically its weakness. The constant flashbacks are essential to Gilroy's calculated and entertaining - if utterly implausible - narrative but, after a while, they come to feel somewhat convoluted and contrived and the hair-raising plot has an ending that is thin to the point of baldness.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow this film is bad. I loved "Michael Clayton," but this is clearly a
director with one successful film allowed to go off the deep end on his
sophomore effort. (See "Atonement.")
I knew we were in trouble from the opening credits -- an interminable slow motion sequence of what's supposed to be a comedic pantomime of two people who hate each other...with the music turned up extra loud to make it seem faster, funnier, quirkier...or something... Problem is, we get the idea after five seconds. The rest of the open gives us no new information, and it's not actually funny, so it seems to last an hour.
These opening credits telegraph what you are in for: two hours of film-making DEVOID of actual content, delivered with mediocre style.
Scene after scene is too long. I don't need a whole sequence of Clive Owen following Julia Roberts, I just need enough shots to know that a following happens. The passing scenery does not interest me. I also don't need the scene in the car where two guys mock Clive's accent to go on this long...or even happen. Clive Owen has an English accent. Is that supposed to be funny? And how many tilt-up-to-skyscraper shots does a movie really need? I guess about 50.
But apparently you also need the actors performing the SAME exact scene (the film's big gimmick) even more than that. Note to filmmakers: this only worked in "The Conversation." Unless it reveals something new, it's a waste of time. (And if it *does* reveal something new, then stop it after 10 seconds, and one occurrence, because once we realize what actually *is* new information (if we haven't guessed already) we're done. The different intonations of the act are of no interest.)
Also, FYI, legitimate suspense is not created by just having people yell "Hurry! Hurry!" while someone looks up a room number from their messy desk. That's just arbitrary.
And -- wow -- BOXES as a transition device. Again, this has been done to death, but usually when it has been done to death, the boxes are telling you something in terms of simultaneous action -- they're not just using boxes for the sake of having boxes. WOW.
The worst part is that the film believes it is being clever, when really what's going on is TOTALLY OBVIOUS. You're way ahead of it for at least an hour, yet the filmmakers feel they have to SPOON FEED YOU A MONTAGE OF "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" (and even *that* is too long) in case you were asleep during the show (a legitimate worry with this film.) That's just insulting.
Oh yes, and ultimately the screenplay is about NOTHING. (Is that technically a spoiler?) Basically the protagonists try to do something frivilous, involving no stakes, then in the end find out they were doomed to fail from day one because they're self-involved idiots. Yawn.
There is one good performance from the southern woman seduced by Clive Ownen. Her behavior is funny in her interrogation scene, the only inspired part of the film.
Almost forgot...you have Roberts use a copy machine to copy the "secret document," yet no one even thinks to check whether or not SHE MIGHT HAVE MADE A COPY OF IT WHILE USING THE COPY MACHINE. (See what I mean by "insulting"?)
Avoid this film.
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.
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