Duplicity Film Review: Fast-Paced Thriller or Underwhelming Dud?

While it’s currently Halloween season, the most recent DVD I decided to rent for my Friday-night watch-a-thon wasn’t a scary movie, but instead Duplicity, an spy film with a relatively complex storyline, an injection or romance, and starring two big Hollywood stars. In this review, I’ll give you a glimpse of what’s it’s all about and whether it’s worth a couple of hours of your time.

The story is essentially a fast-paced thriller with at its core a gripping tale of corporate espionage sprinkled with the Hollywood prerequisite of romance. The film stars Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, who are two former spies working in the private sector. They hold a secret that is worth billions of dollars and each is looking to sell the formula to the highest bidder.

The formula is actually a cure to a cosmetic ‘disease’ that afflicts men of all ages: the dreaded male pattern baldness. As someone who’s been personally afflicted by hair loss, Duplicity piqued my interest right from the minute I heard about the premise. What’s really interesting about the film is that it gives the viewer an insight into the murky world of pharmaceuticals and the less-than-moral practices of those at the head of these firms.

The two leading stars have chemistry and their interactions are well acted. Now, I’m not a huge Julia Roberts fan (to say the least), but I made a desperate attempt to not let that skew my judgment of this film. And I’m going to have to be honest: she successfully protected her reputation of being a formidable actress who can master both butt-kicking spy and romantic lead all wrapped into one characters. Bravo!

The thing that really sets the film apart from similar stories/ideas is that they successfully achieve the idea of duplicity throughout. You’re never completely sure what each of them wants and is looking to achieve, nor is the ending predictable. And that’s exactly what the filmmakers want you to be throughout the ride.

So, any negatives? Well, it’s not a classic. It’s the type of film that’s exciting as you wait for the mystery to unfold, but the ending doesn’t quite do it for me. You also never truly care about a single character one way or another – maybe that’s because you’re always guessing who the good guys are. The person you want to cheer for only becomes apparent at the very end of the tale, by which point you’re a bit too far along to truly care.

For those of you expecting a cheesy romantic comedy, Duplicity is definitely not for you. While it has a couple of cringe moments, it’s not anywhere near a production such as The Notebook. Instead, you’re going to get an exciting thriller with a few twists and turns to keep that noggin churning along trying to keep up with what’s happening Tip: don’t watch this with someone who gets confused when watching movies or it’ll be annoying questions galore!

Overall, Duplicity is an enjoyable film that won’t necessarily go into my pile of classic bits of cinema but it’s nevertheless a worthy addition to a lazy Friday night line-up. It’s entertaining, has a good dosage of intrigue, and the cinematography is top notch.