Film Reviews

DUPLICITY

By • Mar 20th, 2009 •

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They took the lousy Soderbergh/Clooney template for OCEAN’S ELEVEN, TWELVE and THIRTEEN and intentionally made this stinker.

They tried but they couldn’t pull off taking great bits from other movies and reworking them. DUPLICITY plods along. It’s boring, tedious, and the con doesn’t come together. Excluding other actors and actresses from shining in interesting supporting roles, all we have is weak characterizations for the stars.

DUPLICITY starts in 2003 at a U.S. embassy party in Dubai. When a good-looking man at an embassy party approaches any woman, she would show interest. After all, it’s Dubai and it is an embassy party!

CIA agent Claire Stenwick (Julie Roberts) shows disdain for MI6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) but that must be her imperial come-on. A quick cut shows them in his hotel room. Presumably, after slipping him a ‘roofie’, they make love and then Claire steals his classified papers. So, she knew who he was all along. He was the dupe.

Ray, in lots of trouble over being hoodwinked by the fast sex and losing important papers, spends most of the next few years looking for Claire and obsessing over her.

Jumping all over in time, a too-slick soundtrack, running around all over the world, and using those multiple screens that I hate and never work, we find Ray in Rome when he notices Claire. Catching up to her, they engage in their verbal pas de deux that is so 2006 James Bond/Vesper Lynd, and the filmmakers are so pleased with it, we get to hear it over and over again.

Eventually, the plot takes shaky shape. Both are working opposite ends of a scam involving pharmaceuticals. Claire has been hired by Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) as his chief of security and Ray is working for his arch-rival, loud Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti). Claire and Ray are now corporate spies. Claire has a 9 to 5 job and a boss.

  • Get this: Claire and Ray spend years as lovers and working together but do not trust each other. Claire is always testing him. I started getting bored.

    Julia Roberts is now in a constellation where she cannot play real women. That smirk and disregarding glance quickly gets tedious. As the star of the film, Claire has complete command over the con game and Owen is playing George Clooney. Problem is, Owen’s face isn’t soft enough to carry off being led around by his nose. I couldn’t find anything about Claire that made Ray a complete wimp. What spy skills did Claire see in Ray?

    Where is Claire’s charm? Whatever it is, the filmmakers are contractually obligated to keep reminding us Julia is gorgeous. There is a wonderful compliment Owen says to Roberts at the end of the film. Don’t leave the theater without remembering Julia is a goddess.

    And then you walk into the lobby and think, so it was all about their greed? Couldn’t Claire have had a gambling problem or a teenage son on a meth binge?

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