The Double (Blu-ray)
Many spy movies are lots of fun; spy movies are actually some of my favorites: THE BOURNE films (starring Matt Damon), the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movies (with Tom Cruise), even SPY GAME (2001) with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford. In some ways, THE DOUBLE is an homage to spy-genre films from the past 20 years – just not a very good one. Actually, THE DOUBLE is a good example (bad example?) of what is wrong with Hollywood these days – the need to churn out a movie with a surprise that is a canned version of something that we’ve already seen.
THE DOUBLE is the story of a retired CIA operative, Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere), who is called back into action when his only unsolved case suddenly resurfaces. A Russian assassin Paul chased for years, Cassius, appears to have committed a crime on American soil using Cassius’s trademark slit throat. A prominent Senator is dead. Now the CIA is re-activating Shepherdson and teaming him with young FBI agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace). Geary has studied the Cassius file throughout his education (including writing his dissertation on Cassius) and is obsessed with finding and stopping the Russian hit-man… the perfect partner for Shepherdson. But Geary’s youth and inexperience make him dangerous.
On the other hand, Shepherdson is an old dog in a new game, someone who operated outside of the US for his entire career and isn’t used to playing by the rules… and… Paul IS Cassius. The very assassin he is trying to capture is him… what a great TWIST! What an interesting and potentially fun premise that… wait, that was a major spoiler alert, wasn’t it? Surely this is something that wouldn’t be revealed, say, in the first 30 minutes of the movie? Oh, it is? Well then, I suppose the movie must have some other tension that pushes everything forw… it doesn’t? Hmmmmm… This could be a problem.
One of my major criticisms (can you tell?) of the movie is the little tidbit above… some really interesting moments that could have arisen from a slow reveal are instead thrown in the audience’s faces far too quickly and result in a deflated feeling that doesn’t leave after the first act. They tried, desperately, to make a movie that captures the feelings of some of the films I mentioned above… but you can’t have twists for twist’s sake. That just isn’t interesting film making because it doesn’t come from a place with which anyone can identify. In fact, the feeling is so strong that it was very difficult for me to finish the movie (a rarity for me).
All of this occurs on screen as the world comes grinding to a halt. There is no suspension of disbelief here. The entire movie you are acutely aware of the fact that you are watching Richard Gere play a double agent of some kind. You are acutely aware that Topher Grace, while interesting in romantic comedies and sitcoms, just isn’t quite ready for movies like this. And in spite of all of this, the movie still tries to pull it off with some great supporting performances; from Stephen Moyer (TRUE BLOOD), Martin Sheen (THE DEPARTED), and Odette Annable (CLOVERFIELD). When the movie finally starts to pick up a little bit of speed, we’ve already given up and just don’t care anymore. Too little, FAR too late.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The presentation is clear and crisp and will look good on your HD television, should you ever choose to put this movie into your Blu-ray player (I advise against that).
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio is actually a strong point – the film-makers mixed this track beautifully – but it doesn’t make up for the film’s other issues.
Commentary with Writer/Director Michael Brandt & Writer/Producer Derek Haas (01:38:20) A great commentary for someone wanting to learn about the process of making a big Hollywood movie without much experience – Brandt and Haas give some really interesting accounts of their journey through the Hollywood system.
The Double: Behind the Scenes (07:49) A standard making-of documentary featurette, featuring interviews with the core of the cast and the crew. It’s decently done but weirdly put together and has a strange feel. More spoilers can be found here.
Also included on the disc is the original Theatrical Trailer (02:26).