By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Yesterday’s history is tomorrow’s dubiously accurate film fodder, and the only real surprise about an Uday Hussein movie is that we haven’t had one yet (or really any ‘Hussein’ movie). That they chose to filter it through a bunch of gangster movie tropes probably shouldn’t curl your mustachios either.
The Devil’s Double tells the largely fictionalized story of Latif Yahia, Uday’s preferred body double. Dominic Cooper gets to play both men, one who is a depraved sex-addicted psychopath and the other who gets drawn into his decadent, progressively more dangerous world, essentially both main characters in a healthy chunk of crime films. This is all quite against Yahia’s will, and he does everything he can to extricate himself, but Uday has no intention of ever letting him go.
The real reason to watch this film is to watch Dominic Cooper go hogwild. He’s essentially the acting equivalent of one of those odd one-man bands, entertaining to watch even when the pieces don’t always work together perfectly.
Director Lee Tamahori is better known for his summer action fare, like Die Another Day, and some of that Hollywood gloss follows him here. He recreates the seedy 80s playground scene that Uday reveled in with glee, and manages some impressive moments, in particular a montage that manages to incorporate a sex scene, the outbreak of the first Iraq War, and a major plot twist seamlessly.
About that entertaining, imperfect performance of Cooper’s… sometimes it’s pretty goddam cheesy. Uday’s accent in particular takes some getting used to.
Talking about bad acting… holy hell love interest/femme fatale Ludivine Sagnier is brutal. Right from her introduction, which is supposed to be seductive and I guess would be if near catatonic Harley wives is your thing, she displays all of the range and eye response you’d get from a wax sculpture of Ray Charles.
Dude! I am not checking out your wife!
The movie chugs along entertainingly enough until it jumps the rails of plausibility like, well, almost all of Lee Tamahori’s movies.
It sure took Yahia long enough to really he could just waltz off and hitch a ride on the nearest conveniently placed Arabian stallion, and his return for revenge was only one freakishly strong schoolgirl (not the bodyguards- all two of them) away from complete success.
If you treat this as the popcorn actioner it is, you’ll likely find it worth a watch. Just don’t use it as a substitute for the New York Times or anything.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Uday does something sexually deviant
Take a Drink: for every scene in which Dominic Cooper talks to himself
Drink a Shot: whenever Uday freaks out