Spy movies have always held a certain glamour, romance and intrigue, but most appear to paint the protagonists as super slick agents of the state. Witness how this common premise is oft-repeated in the 007 James Bond franchise, as well as movies like the Bourne Ultimatum and Wong Kar-Wai’s Lust, Caution. Taking a slightly different tact, Tony Gilroy takes a more light-hearted look in Duplicity, which sets itself in the cut-throat commercial world of New York-based MNCs.
Helmed by A-list Oscar winning Julia Roberts and Academy Awards nominee Clive Owens, Duplicity has more twists, turns and double-crossing action than a pretzel store in New York (which is where it is set). Former CIA agent Claire Stenwick (Roberts) meets ex-MI6 agent Ray Koval (Owen) as corporate spies acting on behalf of two feuding MNCs. The object of their affections (other than each other) is a secret formula which is fiercely guarded by Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and his cronies, much to the chagrin of rival CEO Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti) who appears to be the main perpetuator of this commercial spy-versus-spy tale.