I don't usually care much about box office returns. It isn't something I study or something that interests me, but when 'The Double' ended up on my doorstep to review I had to check out its box office earnings. The reason being I only vaguely remember this movie coming out. I strained my brain and I could maybe remember seeing one or two trailers for it. It was all so fuzzy, but a movie starring Richard Gere and Topher Grace must have done relatively well at the box office. So I checked Box Office Mojo and found out that the entire theatrical take for 'The Double' was, and I'm not making this up, a whopping $137,921. That's it. I had forgotten this movie even existed and apparently so had everyone else.
There's a reason why everyone, including apparently the marketing team behind the movie, forgot about this movie. It's a bore. It thinks it's clever by revealing its secret only a third of the way into the movie, but the only thing that does is disinterest us further. We already know the big secret behind everything going on, and now we're left with another character desperately trying to figure out what we already know. It's like watching a poor rat run through a maze at bird's eye view.
Paul Shepherdson is Gere's character in 'The Jackal,' only he's not Irish this time around. Shepherdson is a retired government agent whose sole purpose in life was to track down a Russian hitman nicknamed Cassius. He comes out of retirement after a Senator is murdered in the exact same way Cassius murders his victims. He's teamed with a young up-and-coming FBI agent named Ben Geary (Grace). Geary is convinced that the murder was done by Cassius, but Shepherdson isn't so sure. He's been chasing Cassius for his entire life and he believes it to be a copycat killing.
From there we're left to run through a fairly mundane espionage tale, where characters pop up only to serve a specific plot point. There's no real dialogue in this movie, other than expository lines that are used to move the oh-so-brilliant story along.
After we become privy to the secret that the movie thinks is so ingenious we're left watching Richard Gere glare blankly at people from afar while his partner tries to figure out the plot. Even though this is supposed to be a dramatic espionage thriller, Grace is still his unsure, awkward self. Lines like, "Yeah, I was the top of my class in door watching," aren't really helping his cause. There are so many times in this movie that I was reminded of the completely superfluous character Grace played in 'Predators.' It's almost as if he isn't needed in this movie.
This is a paint-by-the-numbers espionage plot, even though the movie tries its hardest not to be. Like I said, it thinks it has this big secret and that revealing it in the beginning somehow does it a service. That's okay, because even though you think you know the secret the movie still has an even bigger secret to reveal at the end, but when it does, all we can say is, "Uh-huh." It's such a flimsy plot to begin with that when the endgame is revealed you'll immediately find yourself thinking backwards through the movie to see if it makes any sense. Don't worry, it doesn't.
This is a movie that's so generic that the second to last shot in the film is a crane shot surveying all the climactic damage. It pans away as the hero walks off accompanied by nonspecific rock music. I think that's when I groaned the loudest. There's a reason 'The Double' made such a paltry sum at the box office.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is an Image Entertainment release that is packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with matching cover art on the slip cover. It comes on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc and is coded for Region A use.
Despite all the films' foibles, that doesn't stop the video presentation from being top-notch in my book. The 1080p presentation here has a very detailed, richly saturated look.
Close up detail is so good that there's a time where Geary and Shepherdson go and visit an incarcerated Russian assassin in prison who has huge scars on his face. The make-up looks fake under the scrutiny of high definition. However, when it comes to the other pretty faces in this movie close-ups feature a wealth of detail. The pores on Gere's weathered face, the individual spikes of Grace's youthful hair, or the soft beautiful appearance of Odette Yutsman's skin. It all looks great close up. Color is deeply saturated. Outside colors burn quite hot under the sun. Inside the offices of various government agencies the color palette turns more towards a pale blue. Color does appear to have been tweaked in post-production as some of the colors are a tad too saturated for my taste. Some skin tones may come across as too bronze.
The movie has a thin layer of grain, but during a few flashbacks the grain is noticeably heavier (and the color has been desaturated) in order to give it a dreamlike feel and separate it from the rest of the film's look. I was very impressed with 'The Double's video presentation. I wasn't expecting much from it given the movie's low-budget origins, but this is one good looking Blu-ray. If it wasn't for the slightly oversaturated colors, and a few crushing shadows, this Blu-ray would be worthy of five stars.
Dialogue is always clear and reasonably intelligible. LFE is generous, especially during a car chase near the end where the cars repeatedly smash up against one another. The creaking, smashing metal fills the sound stage placing you directly in the center of the chase. Pops from gun shots are realistic and effective. Directionality works wonders during crowded meetings where characters speak from out of frame, and at the same time. Like the video presentation, the audio presentation is something that I wasn't expecting from a movie like this. I was surprised and delighted with the outcome.
'The Double' is a forgettable spy thriller that never really understands where it's going or what it wants to accomplish. The story feels too broad, although it seems to be solved far too fast to make it believable. Grace really is the wrong actor here. As much as I like him, he's just not right for an action movie role. However, if you're looking for some near demo-worthy audio and video presentations you may want to take a look at this release. All I can say is that it's a great disc, but a terrible flick.