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The Double Review

The Double, Michael Brandt's post-Cold War spy film, is grade-B hokum, but it's not without its occasional generic thrills. Apparently more adept at staging individual set-pieces than he is at building tension, creating believable characters or stringing together a coherent narrative, Brandt places his best sequence, a successful jailbreak turned grisly murder, near the film's beginning, and he at least keeps the action coming. Which is fortunate because everything else about the film, which involves the odd-couple pairing of grizzled out-of-retirement CIA agent Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) and Harvard-hotshot/FBI rookie Ben Geary (Topher Grace) in order to catch the newly re-surfaced Russian assassin known only as "Cassisus," is downright risible. Whether it's the clumsy use of flashbacks, the air of manufactured portentousness or the completely unbelievable casting of Grace in a role that requires a certain authority utterly lacking in the actor's performance, almost every move seems a misstep. Brandt's worst blunder is to give away one of the film's biggest reveals early on, a strategy that not only eliminates a key element of suspense, but forces the filmmaker to pile on a series of more and more outrageous twists at the end.

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