The Double (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 22, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“The Double” is an exciting spy thriller worth watching!
TITLE: The Double
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 98 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Image Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Action and Violence, Some Disturbing Images and Language)
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Directed by Michael Brandt
Written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
Producer: Patrick Aiello, Ashok Amritraj, Andrew Deane, Derek Haas
Executive Producer: Mohamed Khalaf A-Mazrouei, Ed Bourgerding
Co-Producer: Stefan Brunner, Manu Gargi
Associate Producer: Tali Lipa
Music by John Debney
Cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by Steve Mirkovich
Casting by Kelly Wagner
Production Design by Giles Masters
Art Direction by Caty Maxey
Set Decoration by Erin Boyd
Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers
Richard Gere as Paul Shepherdson
Topher Grace as Ben Geary
Martin Sheen as Tom Highland
Tamer Hassan as Bozlovski
Stephen Moyer as Brutus
Chris Marquette as Oiver
Odette Annable as Natalie Geary
Stana Katic as Amber
Yuri Sardarov as Leo
Ed Kelly as Senator Dennis Darden
Jeffrey Pierce as Agent Weaver
When a United States Senator is brutally murdered, the evidence points to a Soviet assassin code-named Cassius, who was long-thought to be dead. Two men who know Cassius best are thrown together to catch him. Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere, An Officer and a Gentleman) is a retired CIA operative who spent his career tracking Cassius around the globe. Ben Geary (Topher Grace, Spider-Man 3) is a hotshot young FBI Agent and family man who has studied the killer’s every move. Ben thinks he knows Cassius, but Paul knows he is dead wrong. Now, time is running out to stop this merciless killing machine before he finds his next target. Martin Sheen (The Departed), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Odette Yustman (Cloverfield) and Stana Katic (Castle) costar in this tense thriller from the co-writers of Wanted and 3:10 to Yuma that will keep you guessing until the very last shot.
Writing duo Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (known for their work on “Wanted”, “2 Fast, 2 Furious” and “3:10 to Yuma” are back with a spy thriller titled “The Double”.
The film marks the debut of Brandt as a director and stars Richard Gere (“Pretty Woman”, “Primal Fear”, “An Officer and a Gentleman”), Topher Grace (“That 70’s Show”, “Spider-Man 3”, “Predators”), Martin Sheen (“Apocalypse Now”, “The Departed”) and Odette Annable (“House M.D.”, “Breaking In”, “Brothers & Sisters”).
“The Double” begins with a group of foreign Soviet terrorists coming into America from Mexico. When a senator is killed, CIA’s Tom Highland (played by Martin Sheen) brings in one of the government’s best agent on terrorism out of retirement, agent Paul Shepherdson (played by Richard Gere). The murder of the senator appears to be the work of a mysterious assassin named “Cassius” who Paul has been trying to catch for decades and a killer known for killing people with a special wire to cut his victim’s neck.
The CIA wants Paul to work with the FBI’s Ben Geary (played by Topher Grace), an investigator who has studied the work of Paul, and just like Paul, has literally took over the case on finding Cassius. Ben feels that Cassius is back again, while Paul disagrees and thinks it’s a copycat killer. Both disagree with each other and Paul doesn’t seem as a team player and is not to thrilled to work with Ben and goes back home.
But because the situation is important and even the President being advised, Paul knows he has no choice but to work with Agent Geary.
And while working with each other, Paul is easily annoyed by Ben, because he is somewhat of a rookie without field experience.
When the two go to a state prison to meet with a terrorist who has worked with “Cassius”, they try to bargain with him by giving him a radio. If this inmate gives the details of where “Cassius” is and what he looks like, he will get his radio. But Paul thinks that the man will say anything for the radio and just tells Ben to give the radio to him.
As the two leave, the inmate swallows the AA batteries that are inside the radio and is rushed to the hospital. While the doctors are able to remove the batteries, immediately the inmate grabs a security officer’s gun and the inmate escapes.
But hiding in the shadows is Agent Paul Shepherdson who stops the inmate and immediately reveals himself not as an agent but reveals himself to be the real “Cassius”. And Paul removes a wire that comes out of his watch and kills the inmate.
And as Agent Geary continues to pursue “Cassius” unaware that Paul is the real killer that he is after, Paul who starts to know Ben’s wife and children knows he may need to kill Ben in order to keep his Soviet identity a secret, but is he willing to kill the agent and his famiy?
While Agent Shepherdson tries to convince Ben’s wife Joanie (played by Odette Anabelle) to get her husband to quit the “Cassius” case and to let her know that Agent Geary’s obsession of catching “Cassius” can lead to her husband’s demise.
“The Double” is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen (2:35:1). If anything, It was smart of Michael Brand to enlist cinematographer Jeffrey L. Kimball (“Top Gun”, “Mission: Impossible II”, “The Expendables”)for this film. While the film has a good amount of grain, colors look very good, a good mix of warm and cool colors and picture quality for the most part is good. I did notice a few scenes with a bit of artifacts but for the most part, the picture quality for “The Double” looks great!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Double” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the most part, this is a film that is dialogue driven for for the first hour, and while you can hear the ambience of the CIA headquarters and you can hear the surround channels featuring a lot on the sounds of cars driving by, the majority of the action takes lace towards the end as we get a car chase scene and also exchange of gunfire.
If anything, dialogue is crystal clear, the music by John Debney (“Sin City”, “Iron Man 2”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) sounds fantastic and for the most part, the soundtrack works quite will with this film.
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“The Double” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by director/co-writer Michael Brandt and co-writer/producer Derek Haas. The two really go into detail about the production, cinematography but also the challenges of shooting this film on a low budget but how many people dedicated themselves to this film and volunteer time on this film for free.
- Production Interviews – (7:48) Featuring interviews with Richard Gere, Topher Grace, Director/Co-writer Michael Brndt, Co-writer/Producer Derek Haas and more.
- Trailer – (2:26) The theatrical trailer for “The Double”.
- Trailer – (2:20) The theatrical trailer for “Division III: Football’s Finest”.
“The Double” comes with a slipcover.
I have to give Michael Brandt and Derek Haas some praise for writing and directing their own film and working on an extreme budget. Typically, spy thrillers tend to involve shooting in beautiful locations around the world and along with the storyline, you have intense action.
With “The Double”, the film had to be structured in which the focus was on the characters, less on the location. And while the film doesn’t have people waiting until the end to find out who “The Double” is and the trailer may seem to reveal a bit much, there is a twist to “The Double” concept that I didn’t see coming, but when revealed, it was not as striking as when we find out very early in the movie that Gere was playing a double agent.
But I suppose that once Gere’s character, Agent Shepherdson was revealed to be a double, my mind started to wonder what kind of spy thriller this would end up being? A mere cat and mouse game of FBI agent going after “Cassius”, along with his partner who is “Cassius” who is trying to kill his partner but feels guilty about it?
And while that would be quite intriguing, as we have seen films such as the 1989 John Woo film, “The Killer” or Phillip Noyce’s “Salt” deliver in the cat & mouse type storyline with several plot twists to multiple double agent storylines on the defunct TV series “24” … the problem with “The Double” is that, the Russian terrorists who have entered America don’t really play that much of a significant role to the film. We are told they are dangerous, as some were trained by “Cassius” but somehow instead of continuing with the Russian terrorist causing trouble storyline, they aren’t the people responsible for the dead bodies in the film.
And I truly believe this is possibly where not having a big budget can hurt a spy thriller. We expect so much these days in spy thriller films may it be explosions, big body count or exotic locations and perhaps that is why some may feel that the lower-budget “The Double” may feel like a let down. There is no elevation of violence, if anything the film relies too much on the relationship between Agent Shepherdson and Agent Geary and the viewer focusing on whether or not if Shepherdson is going to kill Geary and his family. Not much is done by the “menacing” Russians who illegally entered the country.
Granted, we do have a car chase, we do have a few scenes with people shooting guns at each other but it’s not enough.
As for the performance, Richard Gere still shows us that he can be a pretty active as a character lead and for Topher Grace, an action role in a spy thriller is definitely a step-up from his ’80s comedy film “Take Me Tonight” and “Spider-Man 3”. And as for Martin Sheen, while it was great to see him in “The Double”, his appearance in this film is fairly short.
But despite the shortcomings of this film, I did enjoy it for what it is, for what Brandt and Haas were able to accomplish with the budget they had.
The Blu-ray release of “The Double” does look very good in HD and because it’s primarily dialogue, for its lossless audio soundtrack, it becomes much more immersive in the final 20 minutes of the film. The audio commentary and production featurette were good but if anything, the commentary while insightful, goes to show how challenging Michael Brandt and Derek Haas had while filming this film with a low-budget and were grateful to the people who volunteered their time or not expect a big pay off in order to make this film happen.
Overall, “The Double” may not be a big-budget spy thriller nor should anyone expect any high impact action scenes throughout the entire film, but it’s still an enjoyable film worth watching.
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