The Double (2011)

Friday, September 14, 2012

My “love affair” with whodunits and thrillers began several years ago and ever sine then, you don’t have to work hard to convince me that most in the genre are worth their salt. This film has an all-star cast but other than picking it up off the video store shelf, I knew nothing about it.

As a man who gave his entire life to the CIA, Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) is now a lonely man in his retirement. Aside from attending the occasional little league game, his days are not very fulfilling. Never married and with no children, he let his career become him, and in the process obsessed with hunting and catching the assassin known as “Cassius.” Investigation signs point to the man as a known soviet trained operative who had a very specific signature in his kills and whose name was given to him by those hunting him. Now Paul is annoyed to be recruited again by his former boss (Martin Sheen) when Cassius resurfaces to take out a senator. Convinced the assassin is dead Paul is not for the idea of again hunting him or being paired with the eager, young FBI agent, Ben Geary (Topher Grace) that the CIA expects Paul to work with. Like Paul once was, Ben has an unhealthy fixation with Cassius. He even admits to admiration in the ghost of a man… and it is about to ruin his family life.

His wife, Natalie (Odette Yustman) has recognized Ben’s infatuation with the case since she first met him but she cannot do anything about it despite Paul’s warnings that she convince her husband to leave the case alone, or there will be devastating consequences. The deeper Ben investigates the files all the while attempting to get into the head of Cassius, the more he is determined the man is alive. Or is he?

For a little known indie film – or that is my assumption since the opening titles boast no major production company, this thriller isn’t half-bad. However, it is the ‘bad’ half that leaves much to be desired. The opening of the movie is ill equipped to be informative and mysterious all at once. I admire it on some level because its confusion does pique your interest before even sixty seconds are gone but at the same time, you need to start the story off clearly. If you can stick with the film for about fifteen minutes, you should be able to see it through because once everything starts connecting and our two male protagonists meet, the plot thickens and begins to get interesting.

On reflection, if there is something about this film that impresses, it would be its ease and ability to create a back-and-fourth guessing game though a lot is revealed within the span of sixty minutes – some of which are key plot points that you wouldn’t guess would be unveiled until the final ten minutes. Because of that, writers did take some risks and kept the script sharp and nerve-wrecking though ultimately, I am not sure that paid off.  Making up for that is the cast – all of whom were phenomenal. Gere didn’t always make the most compelling character but he brings versatility to the role. Though her part is small, we sympathize with Natalie and don’t even realize how much we do until the ending. In the genre, this is not the most dynamic thriller and is in fact, quite unforgettable at credits end but it is an entertaining diversion for its nearly two-hour slot and is above that of a B-grade film. It also happened to be the best out of the three films I rented over the weekend – and that is saying something! There are some noble actions, like sacrifice but if there is only thing that is really awful about the script is how it leaves you. As a viewer, we are left feeling as if we don’t know anyone’s identity, and for a girl who loves to be given heroes to root for, that was not comforting. In fact, it is downright creepy.

(Parental review; There is quite a lot of profanity including GD. Several people die from their throats being cut with a wire; the camera always shows the body in a pool of blood. Gunfire is exchanged in the climax and the opening in edition to a car chase scene. The film is rated PG13.) 


  1. I am trying to remember this has been a while. I do remember that the ending took me by surprise! The twist was definitely a good one.

    But I also remember the movie taking a while to get started

  2. That basically sums this one up, Ella. I thought it was a decent thriller, and as you say, the ending may take the viewer by surprise.

    For me, this won't ever be in the leagues of Taken or the "Bourne" series but I enjoyed it for a one-time watch. That is all it is really worth though.


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