Drive-By Movie Review: Duplicity

This is a review of the 2009 movie Duplicity starring Clive Owen, Julia Roberts and Paul Giamatti…

Plot Synopsis: A pair of corporate spies who share a steamy past hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses.

The Honeybee: Before we get started let me just say I love Julia Roberts. My favorite movie of all time is…

Me: Pretty Woman, I know.

The Honeybee: You got it.   So what did you think about Duplicity?

Me: Well, I don’t have to tell you, as an engineer, I often spend most of my day solving difficult and complex problems that require more than a fair amount of brain power, so when I sit down to watch a movie I prefer to give my brain a bit of a break, if you know what I mean.

The Honeybee: Okay, Einstein.   So I take it this is going to be your angle for this review of Tony Gilroy’s movie about industrial espionage?     Was the disjointed storyline too complicated for your  over-worked brain?   Poor baby.

Me: Ha ha.

The Honeybee: Well, if your head isn’t too sore, why don’t you give a quick story overview?

Me: Funny. Duplicity is about two ex-government spies from the CIA and MI-6, played by Julia Roberts and Clive Owen respectively, who go to work as intelligence agents for dueling pharmaceutical conglomerates led by rival CEOs, played by Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti.     The two CEOs each employ their crack intelligence teams to try and gain insight into the opposition’s research and development activities.  

The Honeybee:   But one company  eventually gains a critical bit of intel on the other that it plans to exploit for its own benefit, and that’s when  the real  cat and mouse games start that kept me guessing as to what was going to happen next.  

Me:   No doubt, there were lots of twists and turns in the movie.

The Honeybee: So why don’t you share for us why your head hurt so much after watching this movie, Mr. Smart Guy?   I really don’t see the problem.   The movie opened by showing the two spies meeting for the first time  in Dubai where Roberts’ CIA character ends up bedding and then drugging her MI-6 counterpart so she can steal some classified papers.

Me: Yes, but after that the movie repeatedly jumped back and forth in time and locations and it really distracted from what was an otherwise fine story with some really snappy dialog – some of the exchanges between Owen and Roberts were really top-notch.

The Honeybee: Yes the movie was complex in parts, but the whole story came together and made perfect sense at the end.

Me:   Don’t you think director Gilroy got a bit self-indulgent with the convoluted storyline?   I mean, come on.     We go from Dubai to New York five years in the future, then to Rome 18 months earlier, then forward in time again to New York, then backward 14 months to Miami, then ahead yet again to New York.     The movie would have been much more entertaining if it ran in chronological sequence.

The Honeybee: Here’s what I think:  I think both Owen and Roberts displayed real on-screen chemistry – and did I mention that Clive Owen is sizzling hot?   Sssss.

Me: I agree both Owen and Roberts were great together, and both Giamatti and Wilkinson were stellar, as usual, in their supporting roles.

The Honeybee: The love story between Owen and Roberts was a good one.   The fact that they were both spies ended up putting an interesting kink into their relationship as they never seemed to really trust each other.

Me: True.   Just for the record, I trust you implicitly.   So what’s your recommendation for this movie?

The Honeybee: I say “Buy.” I thought it was a great movie.

Me: I say “Rent.”   So, you think  Duplicity was a great movie, but was it better  than Pretty Woman?

The Honeybee:    Hell no.   But Clive Owen is hot.   Did I already mention that?

Me: You sure did.

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    Well, Paul, I am with you. I said “rent” instead of “sell” only because the story *was* a good one, in my opinion. As for Sneakers, that was a fun movie, wasn’t it? Hard to believe that movie is almost 20 years old.

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