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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Michael Brandt
Cast:
Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Martin Sheen, Stephen Moyer, Odette Yustman
Writing Credits:
Michael Brandt, Derek Haas

Tagline:
Keep your enemies close.

Synopsis:
A retired CIA operative is paired with a young FBI agent to unravel the mystery of a senator's murder, with all signs pointing to a Soviet assassin.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $29.97
Release Date: 1/31/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Michael Brandt and Writer/Producer Derek Haas
• Producer Interviews
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Double [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 24, 2012)

Today’s “Adventures in Direct to Video” takes us to 2011’s The Double. When US Senator Darden (Edward Austin Kelly) gets brutally murdered on a DC street, some suspect a dormant Soviet assassin called “Cassius”. Because retired CIA operative Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) followed Cassius closely, he gets called back to investigate this crime.

Shepherdson thinks Cassius died and this slaying is the work of a copycat, but others disagree, including young FBI Agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace). Shepherdson would like to go back to retirement, but the challenge of either finding Cassius – or establishing that the assassin is dead, as he believes – proves too much for him to resist, so he pairs with the young, bookish Geary to work on the case.

That synopsis leaves out one important element: a massive twist that shows up around the end of the first act. I won’t directly discuss this curveball, as it might ruin some of the fun, but I wanted to mention its existence; it’s too important to leave out of the review entirely, as it single-handedly ensures that Double becomes something more than a standard thriller.

But not much more. Yes, the twist creates a layer of intrigue that otherwise wouldn’t exist, but it also prevents some tension. Again, I can’t say too much if I want to avoid spoilers, but the movie’s big plot device simply substitutes one form of drama for another.

Unfortunately, it’s not a satisfying substitute. Essentially, Double becomes a series of plot twists around which the writers cobbled a loose thriller. Because it makes these twists so obvious, it loses a ton of suspense and narrative value. It leaves the viewer far ahead of the characters much of the time, so we’re stuck in a holding pattern as we wait for them to catch up with us.

That doesn’t create a satisfying story. Sure, we still get some tension in the “there’s a bomb underneath the seat” sense; since we have a good idea where things are going, we’re anxious to see what happens when we get there.

But we’re not anxious enough to overcome the flimsy nature of the overall tale, and the movie’s attempts to throw us off guard fall flat. In addition to the early twist I mentioned, we get another during the climax. It seems to exist solely to justify the premature reveal of the first curveball; I see almost literally no point to the climactic reveal other than to avoid the apparent predictability of the ending.

It’s not enough. I like this kind of movie and hoped that Double would provide a tight, enjoyable thriller, but its odd narrative choices cripple it.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

The Double appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with an inconsistent presentation.

My main complaint related to low-light shots, as these tended to seem somewhat murky. Shadows weren’t bad, but they lacked the expected definition and could appear more difficult to discern than I’d like.

Otherwise, the image worked pretty well. Sharpness was usually fine. A little softness occasionally interfered, but those instances occurred infrequently. The majority of the movie appeared concise and accurate. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

Like many modern thrillers, Double went with a palette that favored chilly blues. It veered warmer at times, but the teal overlay remained dominant. Despite that, the colors remained appealing and positive. Blacks seemed fairly deep and tight as well. Really, the shadows created the most notable concern here; otherwise the image looked pretty good.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine for the material. Much of the film remained chatty, but occasional action sequences opened it up a bit. We got gunfire, cars and helicopters in various spots around the spectrum, and these contributed some life to the proceedings. Music also showed appropriate stereo presence as well. The soundscape wasn’t great, but it worked.

Audio quality was fine. Though speech occasionally seemed a little metallic, the lines were usually reasonably natural and concise. Music showed good range and heft, while effects were acceptably accurate and clear. This never became a memorable mix, but it was more than sufficient for the story.

A few extras flesh out the set. We get an audio commentary from writer/director Michael Brandt and writer/producer Derek Haas. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, visual effects, cast and performances, research, cinematography and stunts, script/character/story issues, and a few other areas.

Haas and Brandt combine to record a consistently enjoyable chat. They’re affable and show good chemistry throughout the piece, so they help make it likable. Along the way, they give us a nice overview of the project, so this becomes a fine commentary.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a collection of Producer Interviews. These last seven minutes, 49 seconds and offer notes from Brandt, Haas, and actors Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Stephen Moyer, and Martin Sheen. Why does the Blu-ray refer to this as “Producer Interviews” when much of the content comes from actors? I have no idea.

Whatever the case, we look at cast, characters and performances, pacing and tone, and how the film reflects the real world. A few good tidbits emerge – mostly from the actors – but film snippets dominate, so we don’t learn much. Oh, and stay away from it until you’ve seen the movie, as the featurette reveals tons of spoilers.

A good plot twist can be fun, but bad ones – or too many of them – can kill a movie. That occurs with The Double, a film so focused on these surprises that it forgets to craft an effective story to surround them. The Blu-ray provides erratic but acceptable visuals, good audio and a strong commentary. I wanted to like this thriller but thought it came with too many flaws to succeed.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3548 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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