Film critics often use the word "fun" when referring to a movie that isn't going to turn many heads and may not be all that worthy of significant attention, yet still retains some semblance of quantitative entertainment value. Critically acclaimed films don't often involve fun—moving, sophisticated and elegant, yes, but rarely fun. So when a film appears that is whiplash smart and breathlessly entertaining, you want—to paraphrase the great Walt Whitman—to shout your review over the rooftops of the world.
Like the miniature Rubik's Cubes that two spies use to identify themselves to each other in Manhattan's crowded Grand Central Terminal, writer/director Tony Gilroy's Duplicity is a pleasurable puzzle with a vast myriad of possible outcomes. At any given time, we have no idea what's going on, but rather than becoming frustrated, we hunker down and pay that much more attention, intent on reconstructing the jigsaw puzzle before all the playful twists are revealed. However, as the title suggests, deceit is the name of this intoxicating game, and we soon realize that success is nearly impossible when the pieces never sit still.
Duplicity's opening credits sequence sets the tone for the entire film. A wide shot shows two corporate jets facing each other on opposite ends of the screen. (This mirroring, a visual pun on the word "duplicity," will be repeated throughout the film.) Clustered around both aircraft, umbrellas opened against the rain, are well-dressed business types. Two men break free from their respective groups and surge toward one another across the length of tarmac, headed for screen center. They are Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), the CEO of Burkett-Randle, and his counterpart at Equikrom, Richard "Dick" ...1