For someone who made his name in Hollywood as a crackerjack screenwriter, Tony Gilroy seems, with Duplicity, far more adept with the camera than the written word. With his directorial follow-up to Michael Clayton, Gilroy returns to the world of corporate espionage, though this time he plays his spy-thriller material for fun, his characters' use of champagne corks to send secret signals proving apt for a film aimed at delivering fizzy thrills.
For all its intricate plot machinations, however, there's little here that hasn't been done before, and better, by the likes of David Mamet and even Steven Soderbergh, whose Ocean's Eleven capers are clearly an inspiration for Gilroy's jazzy-cool approach. Stylish to the hilt, it's a saga coated in sumptuously sleek hues that are in tune with the story's zippy verbal interplay. Yet for all its razzle-dazzle aesthetic flair, there's not much going on beneath the striking surface, as the writer/director's tale is an unnecessarily knotty one, masking its shallowness of theme and characterization with narrative loop-de-loops that, by the third act, are revealed to be insufficient window dressing for a rather pedestrian, hollow cat-and-mouse contest.