Back in the early aughts, Clive Owen starred in a series of promotional online shorts created by BMW called The Hire,
where he played a mysterious driver with no name enlisted by powerful
people to tackle jobs that required a certain skill set, particularly
behind the wheel, that only he had.
Based on journalist Simon Carr's 2000 true-life memoir, this Oscar-bait drama from perpetually serious-minded director Scott Hicks finds Clive Owen back in brooding mode as the recently widowed dad of 6- and 15-year-old sons. The no-nonsense Owen somehow holds this thing together, his haggard face effectively expressing the pain and heartache of a guy scrambling to do right. Grade: B-.
While it's my intention to not give away any crucial plot points about 'Duplicity' in this commentary, you might want to see it before reading. It's eminently worth the ticket price, too — a relentlessly smart thriller of a con-game movie, certainly the best Hollywood movie of the still-young new year. But is it too smart for its own good?
Writer/director Tony Gilroy ('Michael Clayton') runs his ship aground with a smarty-pants crime romance set amid the world of corporate espionage. Stars Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti all look great on the big screen, but that hardly makes 'Duplicity' anything more than a barely watchable crime thriller. Grade: C-.