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Vail movie review: Corporate espionage, romance and shampoo

Charlie Owen
cowen@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily
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VAIL, Colorado “-“Duplicity,” now showing in Colorado’s Vail Valley, is one of those movies that proves star power is everything in Hollywood. Throw two beautiful people up on the screen, give them pithy one-liners to bounce off each other, make it obvious that at some point in the movie they’ll fall in love and POW, you got a blockbuster on your hands.

Here we have a film about two corporate spies (Clive Owen, Julia Roberts) playing two corporations against each other. The corporations just happen to be skin care conglomerates racing to discover and implement a new medical technology in their products, and whichever does it first will clearly sell more stocks ” man, that sounds exciting, right? But, as the two agents double cross their employers and each other, we are caught in the middle, left to figure out who is working with whom and to what end. It’s your classic double-agent-romantic-spy-comedy-thriller.

But has anyone ever really sat down and wondered how glamorous the life of a corporate spy really is? Obviously the answer is yes, since writer and director Tony Gilroy came up with “Duplicity,” and you’ll never believe it ” it’s as glamorous as James Bond’s life. Now that’s something I would have never guessed.

Gilroy deserves credit for doing a complete 180 from his last project, the seriously dark and dramatic “Michael Clayton,” and landing gracefully in the arena of light-hearted, comedic fare. The problem with “Duplicity” isn’t the acting because watching Julia Roberts and Clive Owen try to out fox each other despite their obvious sexual attraction is the best part of the film. The problem lies in the script, which becomes overly complicated in spite of itself only 15 minutes into the movie and taking the effort to follow the plot closely never really pays off. There are funny moments to lighten up the tension on screen, but not enough of them, and the term “spy comedy” is maybe giving it too much credit. It’s just not that funny, or romantic, or thrilling.

Another big pitfall is the lack of closure. When the big switch-a-roo secret-revealing ending finally pops up, it feels unimportant and lame since not much is on the line in this film other than plummeting market shares. There’s no guns, no car chases, no fistfights. And not that a spy thriller has to have any of these to be good, but it sure makes you sympathize with the good guys a lot more when you know they could get killed if they slip up.

It’s easy and popular to make corporations the bad guys in movies right now given the role they’ve played in our current economic situation, but “Duplicity” doesn’t even give us the satisfaction of seeing them get punished for their evil deeds. But that’s not the point. The point is watching Owen and Roberts work together as they somehow manage to metabolize the empty calories of “Duplicity” and keep it entertaining “-even if in the end it all feels pointless.

Charlie Owen is a freelance writer based in Eagle-Vail. E-mail comments about this review to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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