Julia Roberts as Claire Stenwick in Duplicity

Owen Screwed by Roberts

Released in 2009 "Duplicity" sees Clive Owen and Julia Roberts reunite on the big screen for Tony Gilroy's movie all about a couple of double crossing corporate spies. What on paper looks like it should be an intriguing, as well as an entertaining thriller, turns into an over convoluted mess of double, triple and quadruple crosses causing "Duplicity" to become impossible to really follow and culminating in one of the weakest climaxes I have had the displeasure to watch. Some may find it entertaining and at times it is but it is also messy and takes convoluted to a whole different level.

Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts - Charlie Wilson's War) a former CIA agent finds employment with a corporate giant where she is in charge of protecting their intellectual property, at the same time her former lover Ray Koval (Clive Owen - The Bourne Identity) a former MI6 operative finds work with her competitors. Together they devise a plan to earn themselves a cool forty million dollars; all they have to do is to steal a secret formula from beneath their boss's noses. But they aren't the only ones after the formula as the competing companies CEOs will do anything to get their hands on it.

Clive Owen as Ray Koval in Duplicity

The trouble with "Duplicity" is that you never know what is going on. With the use of split screen action, flashbacks and so many double crosses you go giddy as nothing really appears as it is. The thing is "Duplicity" is clever and all the various double crosses do challenge you to try and work out what is happening but there are far too many. By the time "Duplicity" reached its climax I was still struggling to work out what exactly was going on, who was who, who had basically been screwed and more importantly why. At times it seriously felt like "Duplicity" was being made on the fly and double crosses were introduced at the director's whim but never fully explained.

Things are not helped by Gilroy's use of split screen images. Yes it may look trendy with all the various camera angles and various scenes going on at the same time but here it just added to the confusion. Couple this with what I would class as flashbacks where scenes are suddenly introduced from 2, 5 and 10 years ago in an attempt to explain things and you are left more confused than ever.

The thing is that "Duplicity" moves along at such a pace, rarely stopping for you to catch your breath, that you get no time to really work things out. In hindsight this is probably a good thing as it means you don't have time to work out that a lot of the double crosses are both pointless but are contrived to just baffle you further. Trust me when I say don't try to unravel all the clues in "Duplicity" as you will end up even more baffled than when you started.

But the really poor thing about "Duplicity" is the ending, an ending which again feels like it had been created on the fly just to push you over the edge. The trouble is that not once did the plotline to "Duplicity" even hint at what would happen, there were no clues to the outcome and when it happens it is probably one of the biggest let downs ever. Even any attempts to explain the ending end up utterly contrived making it even worse.

But there are a couple of good points to "Duplicity" those being Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. The slightly comical chemistry between the two of them works well and saves it from being a total waste of time. But to be honest they were not overly convincing as corporate spies but it didn't matter that much as the bickering between the two made up for this. As for supporting cast well Paul Giamatti does a reasonable turn as one corporate boss who seems to be one hyper tension short of a heart attack whilst Tom Wilkinson as the other corporate boss is seriously underused.

What this all boils down to is that sadly "Duplicity" is far too contrived and convoluted to be a good movie. The plot line feels like it has been pieced together as they have gone along with little regard for whether it worked or not and the ending is so terrible that I wondered if I had missed something of importance. The only real good thing is that the pairing of Clive Owen and Julia Roberts is entertaining and is the only thing which for me stopped "Duplicity" from being a stylish waste of time.