Two ex-government agents turned rival industrial spies have to be at the top of their game when one of their companies prepares to launch a major product. However, they distract each other in more ways than one.
Ray works for MI6, Claire for the CIA. She burns him in Dubai. Jump ahead five years: he sees her in Grand Central and confronts her. Both now work in industrial security for corporate giants whose CEOs hate each other. Flashbacks fill us in: is it coincidence that he sees her in Grand Central? In about a week, one of the firms is going to announce a revolutionary product. Under the guise of helping that corporation's rival, can Ray and Claire work their own theft and find an independent buyer? To work together, using the corporate rivalry to their advantage, they would have to trust one another - difficult, if not impossible. Or, is one playing the other?Written by
The second movie I watched on honeymoon two weeks ago was this, what appeared to be a stylish and very cool spy film with lots of witty dialogue and two big name actors in the lead. And that's exactly what this is though it does have a number of flaws that aren't immediately obvious in the trailer. It's too flash for its own good, desperately trying to fool you into thinking Steven Soderbergh is in the director's chair and ultimately, it ends up tangled in its own web of deceit. Shame because Julia Roberts and Clive Owen deserve better than this.
"Duplicity" is a complex tale, focusing on two shady characters called Ray Koval (Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Roberts) who now work as corporate spies. Initially on opposite sides of a feud between industrial tycoon Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and bitter rival Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti), the pair decide to work together in order to steal industrial secrets for a tidy sum. At least, that's the plan. It's left up to the viewer to keep track of the story as it flashbacks, split-screens and twists at frequent intervals.
I can only guess that "Ocean's Eleven" is a favourite film of director Tony Gilroy because "Duplicity" tries so hard to imitate it with its globe-trotting storyline, subtle easy-listening soundtrack and visual gimmickry. Trouble is, the whole film ends up getting hopelessly muddled as the film jumps all over the place, meaning an already complicated story is pretty much lost forever. On the plus side, Roberts and Owen provide two extremely watchable lead characters and are ably supported by Wilkinson and the always good Giamatti. It's just such a shame that this film is so confusing. Not being neither a rom-com, thriller or straight comedy makes "Duplicity" as confusing to pigeonhole as it is to watch.
I wanted to like this because I genuinely thought it would be good. I love "Ocean's Eleven" (not bothered about the sequels, mind) and felt that this would be in the same vein. Sadly, "Duplicity" isn't coherent enough for you to follow and when the conclusion does arrive, it's unsatisfying, implausible and like the rest of the film, too clever for its own good. If anything, this film does two things. It reminds us why Owen wasn't quite good enough to be Bond and it also makes you want to watch "Ocean's Eleven" because it's a much better film than this. Ho-hum hokum but nothing more.
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