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Two-Times-Two is…

For anyone heading to the cinema this weekend, there’s really three options in terms of new releases: “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” which doesn’t even warrant my attention; Matthew Horne and James Corden in “Lesbian Vampire Killers” (they’re killers of lesbian vampires, not vampire killers who are lesbian); and Clive Owen and Julie Roberts teaming up to do some industrial espionage in “Duplicity.”

Since I still haven’t seen “Lesbian Vampire Killers” and have no intention of seeing “Mall Cop,” I leave you with a review of “Duplicity,” or as we will call it, “Ocean’s Two.”

Clive Owen arrives on our screens for his second movie of 2009, this time teaming up with Julia Roberts for “Duplicity,” a smart, sassy crime caper that in many ways captures the spirit of Roberts’ previous turns in “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Ocean’s Twelve” with little of the self-congratulatory back-patting.

Owen plays Ray Koval, a former MI:6 agent now working in the corporate world, bringing him into competition with former CIA operative Claire Stenwick (Roberts). As their employers (Wilkinson and Giamatti) pit their companies, and the two agents, against each other, Ray and Claire must confront their shared attraction and decide to team up to take the win for themselves.

Director Gilroy previously brought “Michael Clayton” to the screen (in which Wilkonson also starred) and has also contributed to the scripts on the Bourne movies. While by no means a poor movie, “Duplicity” comes off as a movie that’s trying just a little bit too hard, lacking the seriousness, and even urgency, of “Michael Clayton” or the Bourne movies. The film could best be described as a spiritual successor to “Ocean’s Eleven,” replacing that film’s large cast and casino heist with a smaller focus, along with some corporate wheeling, dealing and industrial espionage.

While an enjoyable caper, the film is let down by the focus on Owen and Roberts’ characters: the sexual tension between the two feels forced at times, less because of the actor’s abilities and more because of the amount of time and effort the script spends in drawing attention to the fact, giving us all the less time to focus on the double-and-triple-crossing that Ray and Claire engage in. It all makes “Duplicity” fun to watch, but you can’t help but feel it’s straying just a little bit too close to falling into the same pitfalls that the “Ocean’s” movies did, and will lose some viewers because of it.

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