Honestly, in this economy, I don’t think it’s comforting seeing two attractive leads try to get away with $40 million. And to make matters worse, the two corporate rivals seem as ruthless as AIG or those other nutcases who’ve been asking for bailouts. But the film plays out well anyway, no matter how uncomfortable it may make you.
Julia Roberts plays Claire Stenwick, a currently ex-CIA agent working for a large pharmaceutical company. Clive Owen plays Ray Koval, an ex-MI-6 agent (yes, that same agency Mr. Bond worked for) working as a corporate spy for a rival company. The two had previously met in Dubai in 2003, whereas she drugged him and ransacked his room in search for secret codes that he was holding.
They meet again two years later in Italy where she pretends not to know him at all, but once she finally admits to being a part of their last encounter, they start to fall in love. The problem is: can they trust each other? They’re world class spies and they have already tried to deceive each other. After a wonderful three days in Italy, Claire wakes up to realizes that she missed a flight to New York and then begins to suspect that it may have been Ray who cancelled the wake up call she ordered. He, all the while, suspects her of purposely engaging in this tryst to derail him from his flight to Iran, which he blew off to stay with her.
They realize that they think the same way, all the more reason not to trust each other, but they are in love so much that they want to stay together. However, if they want to travel the world, the will need a lot of money. How much? About $40 million should satisfy their needs. After a period of time, Ray comes up with an ingenious idea. The two should join rival companies a corporate moles and then, if something exciting happens in the meantime (i.e. a new product is introduced) to take the idea and run.
Three years pass and Claire has gotten a job at Burkett & Randall as a Vice President of Communications and as a spy. Ray just three weeks ago got a job at the rival company Omnikrom. The CEOs of the two companies hate each other. They will do anything to bring the other one down. Even if it means stealing. For that, Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson, who played Ben Franklin in the HBO series John Adams), CEO of B&R has hired Claire. On the other side, Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti, who played John Adams in John Adams), has his team of smart investigators, including Ray.
When B&R announces a brand new product, the Omnikrom team scurries to find out what it is and most of all, how much it’s worth. This involves much double dealing. Even though Ray is still in love with Claire, he has to get the codes to a building by way of a romantic tryst with another woman. After she finds out about this, even though it was for the job, she questions again if she can trust him.
The film is an enjoyable thriller/comedy. The banter between the two leads is the highlight and the very serpentine plot twists require the utmost attention. A funny film that works, no matter how preposterous it really is. Julia Roberts and her girgeous smile makes the audience want to trust her, as does the debonair style of Clive Owen. No wonder why he was considered for the role of James Bond. He looks great in any tux and makes a great cool spy.
In fact, the two leads are so great with their dialogue and repartee, without them, the film may have just come off as confusing. This is cetainly a cerebal comedy, and an enjoyanle one at that. Michael Clayton‘s Tony Gilroy is back trading secrets for laughs. The director-writer comes back and his funny script is well written and well paced, just as was Clayton. A very funny, if sometimes confusing, thriller with two great stars.