Blu-ray Review: The Double

The Double Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Image Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Michael Brandt | CAST: Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Michael Sheen, Tamer Hassan, Stephen Moyer, Odette Annable
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 1/31/2012 | PRICE: DVD $27.97, Blu-ray $29.97
BONUSES: commentary, featurette
SPECS: PG-13 | 98 min. | Thriller | 2.35:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Double

The Double harkens back to the spy thrillers of the 1980s when the Russians are the bad guys. The movie stars Richard Gere (Brooklyn’s Finest) playing a character similar to that of The Jackal‘s Declan Mulqueen, minus the Irish accent. He’s a retired CIA agent who in his heydey brought down six of the Cassias 7, a group of Soviet assassins.

Now, a senator has been killed in the style of Cassias and Gere’s Paul Shepherdson is brought out of retirement to finish the job he started. Trouble is, he’s paired with a young FBI agent (Topher Grace, Take Me Home Tonight), who thinks he knows more about Cassias than Shepherdson, which complicates things for the CIA agent.

I won’t reveal any of the movie’s secrets, but The Double fits its name, with lots of twists and turns. Writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, the team behind Wanted and 3:10 to Yuma, reveal the surprises well. But the best part of their script is that the characters aren’t as two-dimensional as many in this genre. They all have secrets — that we don’t know until the end — but it’s those secrets that drive them and help us like even the bad guys a little.

Gere strides through his role like it’s an old comfortable shoe. Grace, on the other hand, is the film’s main negative. His comic, cheery good ole’ boy schtick worked in a similar kind of role in In Good Company, but it falls horribly flat and unbelievable in The Double. Grace gets a grade for trying, but he can’t get the subtle depth that’s needed for a thriller like this.

In its high-definition Blu-ray presentation, the movie looks good, showing off the differences in color between the present and the flashbacks of the past. The sound is fine too, with gunshots blazing but quiet dialog still clear.

The special features list on the Blu-ray is small, just a brief featurette with interviews and a commentary with Brandt, who also made his directorial debut with The Double, and Haas.

Brandt and Haas are comfortable in their track, chatting like the old friends they are. They made this film themselves, having sold the script to MGM 10 years before and bought the rights back after the movie was never produced. As such, they talk about their experiences with indie filmmaking, including why locations were chosen (film tax incentives), among other tips.

Although the Blu-ray menu says the featurette is “Producer Interviews,” don’t be fooled. The interviews are actually with Gere, Grace, Brandt and Haas discussing the movie, the story and the characters. Gere is the most interesting, describing how the bad guys aren’t all bad, which makes them more human. “Very few of us have the strength to do the right thing all the time,” he says. One warning: This featurette does reveal the movie’s twists, so watch it after you’ve seen the film itself.

 

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.