Friday, March 27, 2009

Grumpy Old Spies

Release: 03.20.09
Rated PG-13
2 hours, 5 minutes

Second-Run Seats

CEO Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton) and CEO Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti, The Illusionist) spare no expense to one-up each other in the battle to be the #1 multinational. Rival spies, Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts, The Mexican) and Ray Koval (Clive Owens, Inside Man), escape the drudgery of government work to the fast-paced world of corporate espionage. Claire and Ray plan to take advantage of the Tully-Garsik personal vendetta, assuming their own suspicious natures don't lead them astray.

Evidently the Gray Panthers Convention allowed some time between seminars to catch a movie. As I sat next to my friend, the only other non-retiree in the audience, I wondered where were the younger fans of Roberts and Owen. Then again, I was there for Tom Wilkinson as much as I was for Owen. It was disappointing to discover Wilkinson's role amounted to a glorified cameo, though the opening scene (pictured above) was a satisfying morsel of screentime.

Writer-director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) focused on Claire and Ray's complicated relationship amidst the whirlwind of corporate cloak and dagger. The film isn't a death-at-the-door nail biter, yet Gilroy infuses every conversation with a riveting quality. About every fifteen minutes, Gilroy reveals another piece of the larger plot puzzle via a flashback. The four-way splitscreen transitions for the flashbacks are more tedious than impressive, especially as the romantic complications (and the lack of chemistry between the leads) dragged down the momentum.

Dirty Undies
It's funny that Duplicity's PG-13 rating really didn't open the doors to younger fans. Gilroy could have gone a lot further than having Clive Owen sport a low-dangling towel without affecting the box office. Outside of a couple of mild "sexual situations," Duplicity is a film you can watch with your grandparents...if they didn't already see it without you.

The Money Shot
All in all, Duplicity is a fun, twist-filled romantic thriller. It's too complex to relate the details to friends. Though I saw it only a few days back, it's already mostly forgotten. It will find a nice home in the TBS rotation before long where can watch it time and time again.

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