Thursday, January 8, 2015

There’s something about a paranoid thriller : The Double (2011)

The Double. [DVD], Image Entertainment, 2012. Director: Michael Brandt; writers: Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. Performers: Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Martin Sheen, Odette Annable, Stana Katic, Stephen Moyer. Summary: When a United States Senator is brutally murdered, the evidence points to a Soviet assassin code-named Cassius, long-thought to be dead. Two men who know Cassius best are assigned to track him down. Both men think they know Cassius, but one - or both - may be dead wrong. Bonus features: producer interviews and commentary with Michael Brandt and Derek Haas.

Style ***1/2
Substance ***

I was prepared to dislike this film. Certainly the formula is all too familiar: prominent person who ends up dead; invisible arch-villain working for mysterious, hostile powers; undercurrent of doom highlighted by a dark, menacing score; sweeping but threatening vistas of D.C.; intense, ambiguous albeit appealing hero; amoral bureaucrats; high voltage chase scene; brutal hand-to-hand fights; murky ending. But like it I did, and thus I must dissent from the mostly lukewarm to negative reviews it’s received.

Admittedly we’ve seen it all before – the paranoid thriller has been around at least since Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May over a half century ago, and can be traced even farther back if we count film noir in the mix, which we might well do.

The genre really hit its stride, however, in the 1970s and 1980s and shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, in today’s climate it seems more to the point than ever. And when executed as well as our present film The Double, it can be darn near irresistible. Another plus is that Double has, relatively speaking, a minimum of onscreen violence for this type of film. And who cares if our story is more than a tad implausible and has a plot hole or two?

Double pleased me and will please fans of the genre with its clever script, high powered leads and impressive production values. It becomes an instant inductee into my pantheon of movies I hate to love, but love them I do. Or put another way: for people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.

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