Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on May 2009

©2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

He (Clive Owen) is ex-MI6; she (Julia Roberts) is ex-CIA. They’ve both put international spying behind them and graduated to the big time: the counterespionage departments of competing shampoo giants (comically headed by Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti). The Cold War was warm and cozy compared to this no-holds-barred battle, where triple crosses are only the beginning. The plot’s ingeniously complex, but intricate instead of contrived, elegant rather than spectacular. It’s Mad magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” done up in a glitzy, multifaceted, sexy and fun package. This effervescent caper/romance/satire is a slick cat-and-mouse game with some doubt as to role definition. Who’s playing whom? They pretend to be in love. Can it be that they really are? For that matter, the movie’s structure itself is duplicitous. Which is the foreground story and which the background? The old-cinema-school verbal boxing matches between the two leads (good chemistry) are things to savor, spiced by a constant sexual tension. And you won’t know until the last frame what’s going on. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy, who gave us Michael Clayton. Don’t miss the opening sequence.