Director: Tony Gilroy
Year Released: 2009
Two former spies - an American (Julia Roberts) and a Brit (Clive Owen) - start off their relationship on bad grounds (she seduces him, drugs him and then ransacks his hotel room) but they learn to work together and play Yojimbo in a battle between two competing skin care companies. The seemingly endless use of flashbacks (through various stages in the Roberts-Owen union) is not simply a distraction but a structural disaster, interrupting whatever forward momentum it was struggling in vain to establish. If it was trying to be some kind of zippy, witty corporate espionage movie it never quite gets there - Gilroy's too aloof for that, too taken with minimalist office design and icy tracking shots. The "grand scheme" - a formula for a Super Secret Skin Product (the MacGuffin) - is over-plotted and the ending is a stretch: you mean to tell me that two people - that the movie takes great pains to show are a 'cut above' - couldn't figure out they could potentially be used as pawns by the opposing CEO (Tom Wilkinson)? Owen's generally good in everything he's been in, Roberts looks - to quote a fellow moviegoer - rather "frumpy," and Giamatti is … well, Giamatti.