Dave White
The Double Review

Dave's Rating:



The TNT and USA Networks need generic political/espionage/crime thrillers. Their schedules require a fresh, constant supply to sandwich into the programming day between reruns of NCIS and The Mentalist. And if they don't get them then you'll have to watch Clear and Present Danger and/or Along Came a Spider over and over. And you don't want that. Nobody wants that.

So that's the answer to the question of why this particular retro-minded-USSR-spy-themed movie exists. It's filler, with all the old-school Cold War blah-blah that older audiences who regularly watch this stuff already know about. And honestly, even if all you know is Russia Is Bad then you're pretty much good to go.

Richard Gere and Topher Grace are FBI agents on the trail of "Cassius," a slippery old-timer Soviet assassin, long dormant, who seems to have resurfaced to kill yet again. But what's that title mean? Is Gere a double agent? Is Grace? Is Gere actually "Cassius?" Is Grace? Is the movie setting you up to think one thing and then planning to trick you with another thing? Have you ever seen a movie like this? Yes? Then you know the answers to those questions. Or at least some of the answers. And you're right, they all involve "gotcha."

That's when a more mysterious question surfaces. Why does an actor of Gere's stature take a job like this? Does he need the money? Does he not need the money but just likes to say "yes" to everything the way Michael Caine used to do? Did it all look better, smarter, cleverer, excitinger on paper? I once heard Howard Stern describe the on-set treatment he received while making his big-screen debut in Private Parts and it was a tale of coddling, pampering and all-day VIP treatment, right down to the warm towels and food delivered to the talent's trailer. He went on to say that he finally understand why actors will voluntarily make movies they know will turn out to be mediocre or even bad: they get addicted to being treated like stars.

That's not to say that Gere did it for the craft services and foot massages, and giving the man the benefit of the doubt -- because remember, he might have chosen to be in Runaway Bride, but he also worked with Kurosawa -- let's assume the script looked cooler and craftier on first read.

And then something went wrong. You can see it on Gere's face. He has checked out, even as the action clicks all around him. The guns fire and the cars go vroom, but they don't vroom loudly enough to drown out the increasingly laughable situations the star finds himself participating in. But he keeps working. He stays put until the end. The check is going to clear. TNT will show it a lot. And besides, it wasn't called Runaway FBI Guy.


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