"Duplicity," directed by Tony Gilroy, stars CIA agents-turned-corporate-spies Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) and Ray Koval (Clive Owen). The 2009 film uses adrenaline and sexual tension as it shows Stenwick and Koval running a con on their bosses. Chief executive officers Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti) stop at nothing to be the first company to launch a new product, and they use whatever means possible to find out about innovations. "Duplicity" adequately describes this film, as it is hard to keep track of who is running a covert operation on whom. No one's allegiance seems to be at face value.
Stenwick and Koval used to be CIA spies, but now they work for corporations, finding out top competitors' secrets before they have a chance to hit the market. Garsik is the CEO of one of the top companies in the nation, and he is portrayed as the underdog, not as sauve as Tully. Tully has an intimidating demeanor and makes calculated decisions. Garsik's research team is also slightly disorganized, and it always seems to be one step behind the competition despite having a mole in Tully's organization.
The film shows multiple meetings of Stenwick and Koval. The first is in Dubai, where Stenwick seduces Koval to steal flight codes out of his briefcase. The second time is in New York when Koval becomes Stenwick's handler, helping her close the deal with Tully to find out his top-secret creation. The third time is in Rome, about two years before the film's main events, where their steamy romance takes off. In Rome, they develop their own information-stealing plan. The film shows two plot lines at once: Koval and Stenwick running a counteroperation to take the information themselves, and Garsik directing the CIA team to take the information from Tully.
Trust is a common theme in the movie. Stenwick and Koval have a hard time trusting each other because of the nature of their work. One could be misleading the other without them knowing it. Garsik trusts his CIA team to be doing the proper work and research to find the new product before Tully has a chance to launch it. Tully shows that he trusts Stenwick by sharing the new product with her toward the end of the movie.
"Duplicity" is not only the title of the film, but the keystone to the ending. Until the end, two counteroperation are being run: Garsik on Tully, with the use of Stenwick as the mole; and Koval and Stenwick on both Tully and the CIA team. Koval and Stenwick have the new product's formula and try to sell it to businessmen in Zurich. But the scientists tell them it is nothing more than a formula for lotion. We learn that the older woman on the CIA team is actually working for Tully, who ran a completely separate counteroperation on Stenwick and Koval, letting them chase a formula that didn't exist. Garsik announces that his company has this new product, a cure for baldness. This is Tully's little joke on Garsik because there is no formula, and the entire chase was made up to distract them from finding out about the real product Tully is producing.
- Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images