×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Double

Like a magician performing one too many tricks, "The Double" overplays its deception while spinning a mildly diverting yarn about a vet CIA spook and the younger FBI agent working alongside him.

With:
Paul Shepherdson - Richard Gere
Ben Geary - Topher Grace
Tom Highland - Martin Sheen
Brutus - Stephen Moyer
Natalie - Odette Yustman
Amber - Stana Katic
Oliver - Chris Marquette
Bozlovski - Tamer Hassan

Like a magician performing one too many tricks, “The Double” overplays its deception while spinning a mildly diverting yarn about a vet CIA spook and the younger FBI agent working alongside him. That nothing is quite as it seems is par for the course in this brand of spy thriller, and a mediocre script by debuting director Michael Brandt and co-writer Derek Haas does little to freshen up the genre. Mismatched against brawnier early fall fare, the pic will earn most of its coin in vid-drop spots.

Topical relevancy often serves spy movies well, but the focus here on Russian espionage gives the pic a dated feel. The action begins, rather muddily, with a pair of seemingly unrelated episodes — the border crossing of a group of Russians and the alleyway assassination of a U.S. senator. CIA director Tom Highland (Martin Sheen, back in “West Wing” mode, only in a far darker role) immediately spots the work of notorious Russian spy Cassius in the way the senator’s throat has been slit, and brings in retired CIA operations ace Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) to look into the case. Paul, however, is dismissive of the director’s hunch, insisting he killed Cassius several years ago.

Meanwhile FBI cub Ben Geary (Topher Grace), a veritable student of Cassius since his college days, is certain the Russian superspy is back in the game. True to formula, Paul and Ben are paired, and naturally take an immediate dislike to one other, with Paul dubbing Ben “a librarian.”

In what at first seems like a perverse turn, auds are led to believe that Paul, who displays an uncanny ability to eliminate opponents with Cassius’ supposedly unique methods, is not whom he appears to be. But this skill might just as easily be the byproduct of Paul having pursued his prey so long that he’s come to absorb his nemesis’ tricks of the trade.

Clunky flashbacks fill in certain details regarding Paul’s history with Tom, including a period in Paris in the ’80s when Paul offered his services to the CIA. But in the present, surveillance video indicates that those Russians at the border are in the U.S. on some kind of mission, suggesting that Cassius, if he’s still alive, may be up to something big. After a second field op leaves a wake of corpses with the same mark as the senator, Ben grows suspicious of his partner. At the same time, Paul warns Ben’s wife Natalie (Odette Yustman) that she should tell him he’s dangerously in over his head, and to back away from the case.

While there’s the sense that this old guy/young guy spy angle has been done better by films like “Spy Game” a decade ago, Gere, never looking tougher or handsomer, and Grace, adding some action skills to his relatively cerebral persona, invigorate the proceedings in roles that would seem to benefit the actors’ career arcs. Yet both ultimately struggle with third-act twists that stretch credibility past the breaking point.

Brandt’s direction misses many opportunities to provide visual texture and touches that could underline the movie’s themes of deception and uncertainty, even as the script pushes more and more toward implausibility. A car chase late in the film seems a weak way to inject excitement that would have been better served up via clever storytelling, which, alas, is lacking.

Much of the film rests on Gere’s and Grace’s confident shoulders, which are almost strong enough to send the pic over. Supporting roles are unmemorable, except for Sheen’sworld-weary CIA exec.

Jeffrey L. Kimball’s versatile cinematography delivers ominous moods in both inky-black nighttime and intensely bright daytime settings, and Giles Masters’ reality-based production design is solid.

Popular on Variety

The Double

Production: An Image Entertainment release of a Hyde Park Entertainment presentation in association with Imagenation Abu Dhabi, and an Ashok Amritraj production in association with Brandt/Haas Prods. Produced by Ashok Amritraj, Patrick Aiello, Derek Haas, Andrew Deane. Executive producers, Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Edward Borgerding. Co-producers, Stefan Brunner, Manu Gargi. Directed by Michael Brandt. Screenplay, Brandt, Derek Haas.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Jeffrey L. Kimball; editor, Steven Mirkovich; music, John Debney; production designer, Giles Masters; art director, Caty Maxey; set designer, Sarah M. Pott; set decorators, Erin Boyd, Daniel Bahorski, Dajuan Lawson; costume designer, Aggie Guerard Rodgers; sound (Datasat/Dolby Digital), Dennis Grzesik; supervising sound editor, Jim Brookshire; re-recording mixers, Jonathan Wales, Richard "Tricky" Kitting; visual effects supervisors, Sean Findley, Troy Morgan; special effects supervisor, Ken Gorrel; visual effects, Post Mango Visual Effects; stunt coordinators, David Barrett, Lance Gilbert; assistant director, Paul Grinder; casting, Kelly Wagner. Reviewed at Wilshire screening room, Beverly Hills, Aug. 31, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: Paul Shepherdson - Richard Gere
Ben Geary - Topher Grace
Tom Highland - Martin Sheen
Brutus - Stephen Moyer
Natalie - Odette Yustman
Amber - Stana Katic
Oliver - Chris Marquette
Bozlovski - Tamer Hassan(English, Russian, Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • Joker

    Why 'Joker' Is About All of Us (Column)

    Take a look at the photo above. It’s the most poetic image to have emerged from Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” and the reason I say “poetic” isn’t just because the shot has that caught-in-action indelible vibe of a quintessential movie poster: graphic, hauntingly composed, a bit shocking (at least, the first time you see it). It’s [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • Film Republic Adds Further Sales for

    Film Republic Inks Further Deals for 'God of the Piano' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Film Republic has closed further territory sales on “God of the Piano.” Film Movement previously picked up North American rights to the film, as reported exclusively by Variety. Mont Blanc Cinema has taken the rights for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Limelight Distribution is looking after the Australian and New Zealand releases, Hualu [...]

  • ‘Bears Famous Invasion’s Lorenzo Mattotti Brings

    Lorenzo Mattotti on MIA Title ‘Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily’

    Illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti is no stranger to film festivals. The artist – a long-time New Yorker cover artist and onetime Lou Reed and Michelangelo Antonioni collaborator – has designed posters for past editions of Venice and Cannes, and has contributed to films that played in Toronto and Rome. This year, however, he experienced the festival [...]

  • Dreamworks Abominable

    'Abominable' Release in Malaysia Abandoned

    Plans to release the increasingly controversial Chinese-U.S. co-produced animation film “Abominable” in Malaysia have been dropped after the distributor said that it would not be cut to cater to political sensitivities. The film includes a scene which depicts a map showing the South China Sea and the so called “nine-dash line” that China uses to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content