Movie #35: The Double

I love a good, plot-twisty spy thriller. Sadly, The Double was poorly-scripted and poorly-planned. I was surprised to learn that Michael Brandt, the writer-director of this movie, also wrote the screenplay for Wanted, but then I remembered that the weakest part of that movie was the plot. In this movie, Richard Gere plays a retired CIA operative, paired up with Topher Grace as a book-smart young FBI agent to catch a former-Soviet assassin nicknamed Cassius who has come out of retirement as well, murdering an American senator. This movie has all the trappings of a brainy, cat-and-mouse storyline as Grace’s character Agent Ben Geary (with the help of Gere’s Paul Shepherdson) pieces together the clues to finding Cassius, but it’s not that brainy and suffers from a lack of thoroughness in eliminating plot holes. There are many scenes that don’t serve a clear purpose and there are action sequences which seem to get in the way. Brandt’s direction is heavy-handed in many ways as well. There are occasionally out-of-place moments of slow-motion and quick zooms, apparently meant to seem ominous. Clues are alluded to without follow-up, then suddenly characters draw conclusions without any clear line of logic. In fact, Geary’s realization of Cassius’s true identity is based on an assumption that is so ridiculous that it actually distracted me from the story. It seemed so unbelievable and beneath Geary’s Harvard-educated mind, that the rest of the movie just felt kind of pointless. Between the information that the movie does give us and what it leaves out, I don’t know whether it was bad writing or bad directing (but sadly either way Brandt is to blame). Grace and Gere give adequate performances. Like his character, Gere seems to be coming out of retirement, not really putting the full force of his talent into play. (Same goes for Martin Sheen, as CIA boss, who makes a few brief appearances.) Grace is great at being the bookish guy who gets to play in the same game as the more formidable men. However, I would have liked to have seen his character have a bit more authority and be formidable himself rather than be the underling. After all, it would have been reasonable for Geary’s intelligence to be a serious asset in his line of work. As I’ve mentioned, there are twists in this story: one which is revealed very early and one near the end of the movie. Neither plays out very interestingly (though it’s clear that they were both meant to have not only plot impact but also emotional impact on the movie). Sadly, my jaw never came close to dropping (3 out of 5).

35 down, 15 to go!

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