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Featured DVD Review: Double Identity

February 25th, 2010

Double Identity - Buy from Amazon

Double Identity, starring Val Kilmer, is a thriller set and filmed in Eastern Europe. Kilmer started his movie career making two of my favorite movies of all time: Top Secret and Real Genius. However, while he's had a few good films and some midlevel hits, for the most part his career has never reached the level that you would have projected from his early successes. Recently, film after film of his has been relegated to the direct-to-DVD market. This isn't the first direct-to-DVD film of Val Kilmer's that I've reviewed, but hopefully this one will be better.

Val Kilmer stars as Dr. Nicolas Pinter, a physician working with Doctors Without Borders. The film starts with him being called by a friend whose wife is in labor, but there are some complications. When they try to get to his friend's house, they run into a military roadblock and have to bribe their way past. What should have been a minor inconvenience destroys his life when a corrupt military officer believes he is John Charter, an Englishman that has been trying to get in the way of his deals. What are those deals? I really can't say without getting into massive spoilers, but it involves the diamond trade, but the legal diamond trade that is heavily controlled by cartels. (In this movie, the cartel is named "The Cartel". How original.) However, the corrupt military man wants break the Cartel's grip on his country's diamond resources by going around them and working with one of the major distributors. Of course, The Cartel won't stand for this and have been trying to stop him, which is where Dr. Pinter comes in. He thinks Dr. Nick Pinter works for the Cartel, which puts Pinter's life in danger. However, when the Cartel gets their hands on Pinter, he's no safer with them, as they are also a corrupt organization, willing to do whatever it takes to maintain their control of the market. He does have one ally, Katrine. Maybe.It's really hard to figure out who is on whose side throughout this movie.

So the movie is a mistaken identity spy thriller, which is not exactly a unique setup. In fact, this is the basic setup for North by Northwest, which is one of the greatest movies ever made. Double Identity is not, but since it is a direct-to-DVD release, no one should be expecting something Oscar worthy. Can it at least match lowered expectations? Yes and No.

The story is muddled, to be polite. (Early in the movie Dr. Pinter and Katrine meet due to circumstances that don't make a lick of sense. The scene is in the movie because it is needed to advance the plot, not because it makes any internal logical sense. A lot of the plot seems to be merely the addition of one twist after another, which loses its effectiveness after a while. Finally, it seems like a lot of the actors are sleepwalking their way through this movie. Or, in the case of the lead, perhaps he was treating the movie as merely a paycheck.

On the other hand, I think the action was handled well. Some have complained that Val Kilmer is past his prime and is not able to pull off the same stunts he once excelled at. However, his character is supposed to be a doctor, so if he went all James Bond, I would have been pissed. Izabella Miko, who plays Katrine, was very good in the movie. Finally, I like the basic plot about the diamond trade, which has historically been incredibly corrupt. The recent openings of major diamond mines in Canada and Eastern Europe have started to change this, but the problem still works as a good starting point for a film like this.

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

I really like Val Kilmer and wanted Double Identity to rise above his most recent slate of releases. And while there are some positive aspects to the movie, it still feels like a typical direct-to-DVD film. It's worth a rental if you like the genre or the star, but that's about it.

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