A retired CIA operative (Richard Gere) and a young FBI agent (Topher Grace) team up to capture a legendary Soviet assassin after a U.S. Senator is murdered.
Written by: Michael Brandt and Derek Haas
Directed by: Michael Brandt
The Double is a good, old-fashioned spy thriller, in all the right ways. Relying almost completely on talented actors and a decent script, the film never resorts to special effects, car chases, or explosions to keep your interest. It never really has to; despite a generic premise (as far as spy movies go), the film is surprisingly entertaining and manages to take a few unexpected turns.
I will not go into the specifics of the plot any more than I already have, because a major plot revelation happens pretty early on in the film, and I do not want to spoil it. It was an interesting decision by the filmmakers to let the viewer in on a secret so early on in the film, while the characters play out the story unaware of it. Whether it actually makes it a better film is up to you; personally, I liked the choice. For some, however, it may stretch the logic of the film a bit too much.
The cast puts in a solid performance, even Richard Gere, who seemed relegated to playing romantic leads in recent years. I did not totally buy his role, but his performance was understated and deliberate, which was much better than playing it too big and overacting to the point of irrelevance. Topher Grace continues to prove he can be a solid actor, but he hasn’t quite outgrown the “That 70s Show” shadow just yet. Martin Sheen, Stephen Moyer, and Stana Katic are all quite good, and I was excited to see their names in the credits, but their roles are much smaller than I expected.
The Double is a solid political spy thriller, but it falls short of being something special. The film plays out in a pretty straighforward matter, and it seems to miss some opportunities to play the plot twists to their full dramatic potential. For a film called The Double, I expected the inevitable betrayal to have more of an impact. Still, it is an enjoyable film with some solid acting and a nice Cold War vibe to it.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video image is quite strong, providing a razor-sharp picture throughout. In a few flashbacks, some artificial grain is injected to give it a dated look, and it works to some extent, although Richard Gere seems to look the same despite a 20-year difference. The color palette of the film is a bit muted, perhaps to give it a grittier, old-school look, but still looks fantastic. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and gives the exposition excellent clarity throughout all channels. No other languages are available.
A nice featurette that covers the making of the film is included, and features interviews with all of the major cast members. It does give away some of the plot, so do not watch it before you view the movie. The audio commentary by director Michael Brandt and writer Derek Haas is thorough and informative, providing some nice insight into the film. It is obvious that the pair really care about the film. A trailer rounds out the extras.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Overall Grade: A-
The Double may not be the best spy film ever made, but it is solid enough to warrant a watch. Richard Gere and Martin Sheen prove once again how good they are as actors, although I felt the script let Gere down at times. There are enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, making it a good choice for a rent.
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: “Making Of” featurette, trailer
Audio Commentary: By director Michael Brandt and writer/producer Derek Haas
The Double is now available from Anchor Bay Entertainment.