I would've never given this movie a second chance if it had not been written and directed by up-and-coming genius Tony Gilroy, the man behind Michael Clayton, and in fact this movie shares some similarities with Clayton. Duplicity is about people who play tricks on other people and there is a faint echo of the deception that Michael Clayton was capable of balancing with a good dose of characterization. In some ways this movie is a downsized Clayton that is just a lot more happy and playful. Even with the witty banter and back-and-forth'ing that takes place, because the movie is so lighthearted, none of the deception feels prevalent enough for us to truly enjoy it. Not that this movie is a boat full of smiles but this story could've been told with a completely gritty tone and thus the movie doesn't feel as secure of a story as it should. The consequences just don't seem to have as much meaning when they either spell doom or fun for the con man and woman.
For those not in the know, the movie follows an MI6 agent (Clive Owen) and a CIA agent (Julia Roberts) who decide to con two competing pharmaceutical companies (whose CEO's are played by Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson respectively) by becoming the heads of each company's security force. Like I said before, none of the characters have deep dark secrets on their conscience, they are just here to win some money but none of the players are fleshed out enough to make this movie as enjoyable as say Ocean's Eleven. Despite the tomfoolery and the light-hearted moments, because nothing too serious happens, one will find it hard to enjoy the lack of depth in this movie. And yet the characters are kooky and wacky enough (don't get me wrong, this ain't Looney Tunes, everything is still inside the realms of realism) for audiences to not mind any of the film's shortcomings.