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The Devil’s Double (Blu-ray Review)

I’m generally a marketing agency’s dream demographic.  I guess you can say that I’m a bit of a proverbial yuppy.  I am very impressionable by clever or intriguing movie titles that pick my overly curious and zealous mind or sexy/bikini-clad dames in distress on one-sheet theatrical posters.  With that being said, the former is the point in case for this review today.   The title The Devil’s Double provokes many thoughts and images within my quirky mind.  It says evil.  It says sadistic.  And most of all…it says demonic.   Although The Devil’s Double is none of those, when referring it to a film in the horror genre, I suppose its subject matter deals with all those three if you overanalyze things the way my brain usually tends to do so. 

 

Film

The Devil’s Double is a 2011 Iraqi drama film directed by Lee Tamahori and stars Dominic Cooper, Philip Quast, Ludivine Sagnier and Raad Rawi.  It was released on January 22nd at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and in limited theaters on July 29th by Lionsgate and Herrick Entertainment.  I underlined “limited” in the previous sentence because had it not been for the premiere screening I was lucky enough to attend as a member of press at Comic-Con this past summer, I would have never have seen this in my hometown.   But that’s nothing new when you live in Cleveland, OH.  However, why a limited release?  This is a five-star film, people!  I know the real answer to my rhetorical question, but what kind of world do we live in where a crappy film about CGI blue Smurfs makes millions of dollars and an honest to God soon-to-be cult classic like this only receives a “limited” release?   You can’t fight it.   This world just isn’t fair.

Shawn Edwards of Fox-TV calls The Devil’s Double “Part Scarface, part Goodfellas.  A cinematic tour de force.”  I couldn’t agree more.   I’m sorry Sean Ferguson, but you have no idea what the hell you were talking about when you trashed Scarface here, just like I didn’t when I bashed everyone’s sci-fi favorite, Serenity, here.  The Devil’s Double is on par with both of those aforementioned films and I’m here to tell you why.  It goes a little something like this.

Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper) is an Iraqi army lieutenant “forced” to act as a fedai (“body double”, or political decoy) for Uday Hussein (also marvelously played by Cooper), the playboy (for lack of a better term) son of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein (Philip Quast).  Uday is a sadistic psychopath who arbitrarily kills people, tortures them and even rapes and beats young women to death after kidnapping them from the streets while they are walking home from high school.  Uday says it best in the film, and I quote.  “I love c#%t.”  Latif tries to stop him more than once, but each time this only causes aggression and irreconcilable/monstrous actions from Uday.  He truly is a mad man.  However, despite his craziness, Uday never kills Latif, because as he says more than once during the film, the two are brothers.   Between you and me, that’s bullsh1t!   Do you know how hard it is to find a good body double in this world?  Ha ha.  Anyway, I think you know where I’m going with this.   Latif can only take so much of his new life before his conscious forbids him from taking another breath and forces him to conceive a plan to rid the world of this evil and very feared psychopath.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, meant to only whet your appetite.   The Devil’s Double is a MUST-SEE political thriller.

The Devil’s Double has received mostly positive reviews, including from yours truly, with critical acclaim given to Dominic Cooper’s dual role.  That’s where I believe this film truly shines.   I would be heartbroken if Dominic Cooper, most recently known for his role as Howard Stark in the sleeper Captain America, didn’t get a nomination for this.  His acting is so dynamic, off-the-wall and spot-on here.  Just watching him create and forge these dual personas onscreen takes my breath away, and I’m a heterosexual man.  What the heck does that mean?   I don’t know, but I figured I better clear the air before ignorant people make bold, raunchy and poignant accusations.  However, in addition to Dominic Cooper and the film’s gorgeous cinematography courtesy of Sam McCurdy, I fell in love with the politics and the hypnotizing and driving Middle Eastern score.   Let me explain all about it below.

Having grown up, exactly in the same time frame this movie plays out in, I was sucked in instantly.   And the moniker, “based on a true story,” doesn’t hurt either.  I’m a sucker for wanting to know all I can about the psychopath my country knocked out of power.   Take it from me, I’m not a big follower of daily politics, but this political thriller will get your heart racing and will have you on the edge of your seat, so much so that if you are like me, you’ll never want it to end.  And perhaps, that’s the only problem I had with this film.  I struggled with scoring this one.   This film is perfect in every aspect except one, in my opinion.   I felt the film built up so much tension that I just wanted it to pop like a rubber band or explode like a can of shaken, never before opened soda, and go out with a big bang.  I just wanted that huge colossal, epic ending.   The film does end with a bang, but I can’t put my finger on it.   I just wanted more!   However, I’m just thankful it wasn’t a stinker ending like the abrupt conclusion of Marky Mark’s Invincible.  I truly feel that The Devil’s Double deserves the highly coveted five-star rating I awarded it and I will have words with whomever thinks otherwise (I’m lacing the proverbial gloves up now…ding, ding).

And oh yeah…that score!  I mentioned the riveting Middle Eastern soundtrack because that’s what I remember the most from my July theatrical viewing of the film in San Diego.  I remember being dead-a$$ tired, but hypnotized by the trance induced score that like The Kingdom, really puts you in the middle of all the heated action and lends itself well to creating an authentic setting.   I love, love, love it!  Hats off to the Christian Henson for hitting this home.  You earned my respect and my undivided attention, so much so that both times I have now seen this, I never once was tempted to look at my holier than thou iPhone device to see if anyone texted me.  If I had a 4S with Siri I wold be like Siri, leave me the f#%k alone and don’t dare bother me during the duration of his two hour film.   I don’t care who it is.   They can wait.  I want to be captivated!

Video 

The Devil’s Double opens with what is purportedly rough found footage, but once we are transported to a car diving past red mountain landscapes, which we are led to believe is Iraqi terrain, the visuals are both moving and breathtaking.   It was an OMG moment to say the least.  The Blu-ray presentation is blessed with a striking AVC MPEG-4 encode, accompanied with a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio.   It doesn’t get much better than this.   The ugliness (albeit intentional…I’m not ignorant) and washed out picture of Three Kings is nowhere to be found here.   Instead, we have an exceptional three-dimensional Blu-ray pop, vivid colors and immaculate clarity.   How can one find fault with this?   That was a rhetorical question.   I’m really not interested in your replies.   I don’t have time for them.  Detail here is razor sharp just like the sword Uday wields when he slays all those that oppose him.   Despite the stock footage employed throughout, which again lends itself well in creating an authentic setting, I really have no gripes with the way things looked here on my new 55″ Sony Bravia set.   There was one scene of super clear CGI use when a stomach was cut open, but other than that and the stock footage shown throughout, things looked reference.

Audio 

It’s not as sonic, epic or gigantic as King Kong, but it will do.  Lionsgate brings The Devil’s Double to the Blu-ray format with a banging 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack.  I almost shat my pants when I saw those words displayed on my HDTV screen.   I love it!   Bring on the mayhem, the bullets and insatiable dialogue.   It always sounds rich, full and grand here!   That’s the way we roll here on the Lionsgate Blu-ray release of The Devil’s Double.   Dialogue is loud, clear and intelligible throughout, explosions rock your viewing room with ear-ringing authenticity and bullets splatter all around you complete with the audible tings the shell cases make as they fall about and little the soundstage sporadically.  Need I say more?   Oh yeah…remember that killer musical score I was talking about before?   Well, that’s part of this department too.  Hallelujah!  Rejoice!

Special Features 

Perhaps, if I had to find any fault with this disc, it would reluctantly be in the Special Features department.   Not that I give a flying f#%k about extras, because it’s the movie that matters n my opinion, bonus materials are not bountiful here.   Oh well.   Maybe they will re-release it again one day, but until they do, here’s what you can expect to find on this thrilling Blu-ray release.

 

  • “True Crime Family” (HD, 16:10) – Dominic Cooper, cast and others talk and recount their tales of how terrified they were about Saddam and is son’s reign in real life.  If you are a history buff, like me, then perhaps you will enjoy this.
  • “Double Down with Dominic Cooper” (HD, 8:46) – I did not talk about this too much above, as I knew I would be talking about it again below down here, but this one is simply what the title implies.   How did Dominic pull off this dual role he did so charismatically well?  You can find out here!   This is my favorite extra.   Kudos to Dominic and his incredible performances he gave.
  • “The Real Devil’s Double” (HD, 7:44) – Here we go!   For the next 7+ minutes you get the chance to meet the “Real Deal,” the “real” Devil’s Double as we are treated to an interview with Latif Yahia.
  • Audio Commentary – It’s nice to see, or rather hear, that they did to skimp this release without including at least one audio commentary track.   And that’s exactly what we have here…one track.   The lone audio commentary track features director Lee Tamahori

Final Thoughts 

So that’s my review of The Devil’s Double.  What do you think?   Did I sell you on it?   Despite the disc’s lackluster special feature department, this one is solid just about everywhere else it counts and with the inclusion of a 5-star film rating, I really can’t think of anything else here other than a score of 4.5.   What say you?   You know you want to give this one a spin before T-day.   Here’s the deal.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.   Buy this one.   Don’t rent.   Here’s the pre-order link.   Can I possibly make it anymore easier for you to own this title?   Pre-order it now to have this bad boy on your doorstep when you come home the evening of November 22nd.   You work hard.   You deserve it.   Let your movies work for you.   It has been my pleasure serving you on this flight(can you tell I’m writing this review on a plane?)…um…I mean review…make sure you enjoy your stay and feel free take a look around here.   You never know.  You may like what you see and if not, there’s always Lion King over here.   Cheers!

 

 

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

11 Responses to “The Devil’s Double (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gerard Iribe

    This is in my top five of the year!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    I mean, I liked Cooper a lot in the film, but I haven’t really thought about it since.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Of course you haven’t Aaron. You were still thinking about Captain America.

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    That’s partly true, since I saw it the next morning and liked it more.

  5. Gerard Iribe

    There’s no accounting for taste.

  6. Gregg

    Per Aaron’s recommendation, I’ve got ‘Attack the Block’ next up in Netflix. I’ll throw this movie in after it.

  7. Gerard Iribe

    I’m waiting for the price to drop on Attack of the Block. I’ll pay full price for Devil’s Double on Blu, though.

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    Why not double.

  9. Brian White

    Nothing like waiting 3 months for a Netflix title.

    Click on the link, yo!

  10. Gregg

    There are plenty of other films I can watch until then. I’m not going to blind buy it, spending $25, when I can watch that and how many other movies in a month for $15. You’re just mad because you were Blockbuster’s only through-the-mail customer 😉

  11. Brian White

    Dude! It’s not $25, it’s $20! Don’t blame me if I talk spoilers about it since you need to wait 90 days for precious Netflix, a company who clearly has no idea what they are doing in the business world, to get the title. But other than that, thank you for stopping by 🙂