Joshua Reviews Michael Brandt’s ‘The Double’ [Theatrical Review]

Going into a film blind these days is nearly impossible.   Be it the crazy accessibility of trailers, or clips, or even photos, online, or the even crazier access to unwarranted spoilers via Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other various social networking sites.   However, it’s even more difficult when the promotional side of a film’s release doesn’t appear to have any care about the said spoilers, even going so far as to put them directly in the trailer.

Michael Brandt’s new feature, The Double, is that exact film.

With one of the most spoiler filled  trailers in some time, the film has become one of the more discussed indie releases of the month, and not for good reasons.   However, with a top-notch cast including Richard Gere and Topher Grace, one has to have the highest of expectations, right?

Too bad those would not be met.

The Double is your run-of-the-mill espionage crackerjack thriller without a crackerjack narrative or anything remotely thrilling.  The film follows a retired operative who teams with a young FBI agent to help uncover the mystery of a senator’s murder.   That said, not all appears to be as is, and that’s really where the film gets going. And where it completely stalls.

Performance wise, this film is the epitome of mediocrity.   Gere is arguably the film’s greatest on screen aspect, as he gives a solid, if unremarkable, performance as the aging former CIA agent, with something of a sketchy past.   Having unfinished business with a case he left unsolved, there is a lot under the surface here, with regards to his character and his performance.   It’s a turn that Gere could do in his sleep, along with millions of other thespians of his ilk, but it is entertaining nonetheless.   Topher Grace however, gives a performance that is both unremarkable, and also wholly uninteresting.   It’s a stale, wooden turn as a young up and coming agent, and the moments between he and his recently wedded wife (Odette Annable) feel beyond stagnat.   Martin Sheen shines here, but is wasted as much as he is entertaining to watch.

Director Michael Brandt may be the truest weak link here.   What should play as your standard thriller piece, is instead as limp wristed as the performances it surrounds.   Without anything remotely resembling a visual eye, Brandt, who himself has been behind the pen for some of the most intriguing action pictures like Wanted and 3:10 To Yuma, leaves the film lying dead on screen.   The script is just as weak, telegraphing its twists and turns like a rookie NFL quarterback does his passes.   Thematically, the film doesn’t strive to be anything remotely intellectual, instead playing as if it were a film ripped right out of the fourth grade notebooks of one M. Night Shyamalan. Simply put, the film doesn’t have a brain in its head, and doesn’t appear to strive for any either.  For someone of Brandt’s skill, as mentioned above he is behind some genuinely fantastic films, this is quite unforgiveable.  With any good thriller comes both thrills, and also some real heart and emotional core, and instead, we are left with a rotten and simplistic center, that seems to be okay with simply going about its business without adding anything to the cinematic lexicon.  Seems fine just existing.  And that’s all this piece does.

Overall, for those who don’t mind their thrillers to be without thrills or brains, this may be something you’ll dig right into.   However, for those with hopes of being genuinely thrilled or intellectually stimulated by a piece of cinema, this is best left forgotten about.   Lacking in anything remotely inventive or even worth note, The Double is a thrill-free bit of cinema that features wooden performances, stagnant direction, and a score that is derivative and uninspired.   That’s a good way to describe this whole piece.   Simply uninspired.   Adjust your interest accordingly.

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