Two ex-spies battle it out for love and money in this slick corporate caper starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. After leaving the world of espionage behind, CIA officer Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and MI6 operative Ray Koval (Owen) find themselves on opposing sides, both trying to secure a secret formula that will make their respective multinational bosses (Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti) a fortune. However, as they each try to outdo the other, urged on by their eager employers, with double-crosses and underhand moves aplenty, they soon find themselves falling for the oldest trick in the book - love.
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen surprise and delight on multiple levels in Duplicity
, a caper film that keeps the audience guessing if the tone is cheeky, seriously, or both in exactly the same scene. Owen smolders as the relaxed, craggy sexual beast he's become--effortlessly--and Roberts is surprisingly mature and tic-less. And their chemistry threatens to explode out of the beaker. On one level, Duplicity
is a sparring romance, bringing to mind the no-holds-barred zingers between Cary Grant and Roz Russell in His Girl Friday
. But the film has layers of action and suspense, as well as a neat spin on the spy business. Instead of hunting for, or protecting, confidential state nuclear secrets, as each character once did when they first met, now they are beholden to captains of industry and Madison Avenue--seeking secrets not of national security, but of formulas to the next great… moisturiser. Director Tony Gilroy, who wrote all the Bourne films and wrote and directed Michael Clayton
is clearly carving out a snappy path for himself as a master of sleek, suspenseful, energetic films that nonetheless appeal to a mass audience. A special shoutout to the opening scene of a fistfight on a tarmac between Armani-clad CEOs (one played by an especially memorable Paul Giamatti). "You on one side, me on the other," says Roberts' Claire at one point to Owen's Ray. "It's perfect." Perfect grownup entertainment. --A.T. Hurley