To Catch an Assassin

Topher Grace and Richard Gere in The Double (2011)

When a Senator is assassinated all the clues point to it being the work of Cassius who was infamous for killing his victims by slashing their throats. And young FBI agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace) is convinced of this as whilst he was a trainee he wrote a thesis on Cassius and his way of operating. But then there is retired CIA agent Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) who is confident when he says that it wasn't the work of Cassius but someone imitating him. Whilst Paul tries to go after who he thinks is behind the killings Ben becomes intrigued by Paul who he begins to suspect is really Cassius.

Spoiler alert. I hate those two words but some times the only way to review a movie is to tell you certain twists and "The Double" is one of those occasions. Now in truth what I am going to tell you is actually revealed to the audience quite early on so I don't feel bad when I say that yes Paul, the retired CIA operative was in fact the assassin Cassius and so knows that it wasn't Cassius who killed the Senator. It makes those who know their movies to go down the Hitchcock route with a bit of a similarity to "To Catch a Thief" except there is another twist to make it more than just a variation on Hitchcock's classic thriller.

Richard Gere and Martin Sheen in The Double (2011)

Now from a concept point of view I like "The Double", the set up of a retired CIA agent who was secretly an assassin teamed up with a young FBI agent who has studied the assassin has potential and could go in a variety of directions as to how it plays out. The trouble is not so much how the story plays out, although it is a little too contrived for me, but the actual characters as they all seem to have a comical aspect which is wrong for this sort of movie. The cocky smile of Ben to the easy going charm and superiority of Paul is out of place and constantly pushes it towards comedy.

What also seems to be the case with "The Double" is that director Michael Brandt decided to not go for thriller which this could have been and instead goes for impact scenes especially when it comes to the action. As such we have some wham bam style scenes full of snappy editing which becomes the movie's focus with Cassius's modus operandi of using a wire concealed in a watch to slit throats providing what I suppose are technically wow moments. But whilst to a certain degree it makes "The Double" entertaining with Gere getting to play it up as a bad guy you just can't but help feel that there was a really good thriller to be made rather than a movie which tends towards being popcorn style entertainment.

What this all boils down to is that "The Double" is an okay movie, it will entertain with the seeds of a good idea and some appealing performances as well as snappy action scenes. But it is a movie which thrives on the look rather than the depth which is a shame because it could have done something really clever than just doing okay.

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