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Stars: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti, Oleg Stefan, Khan Baykal, Thomas McCarthy, Dan Daily, Denis O'Hare

Director: Tony Gilroy

Falling over backwards to be as devious as possible, writer-director Gilroy all but drains the life out of this industrial espionage thriller. The first half is really quite dull, with US/UK government agents Roberts and Owen meeting and re-meeting over a period of five years, in Dubai, Rome, London and Miami, exchanging the same 'Don't you remember me?' dialogue, in what has evidently become a practised ritual.

'This sucks. This is totally unsatisfying,' exclaims Owen at one point, and we're inclined to agree, even as we suppress a giggle when, in one of his guises, he describes himself as a 'pediatric cardiologist'.

The second half is livelier all round, and certainly picks up the pace a bit, but might be more exciting if we had even the faintest idea of what the hell was going on. Roberts and Owen work well together, but their sometimes-smart, rapid-fire patter is too similar throughout. More effective are the supporting players, especially Giamatti as a hyper industry CEO, and Kathleen Chalfont as one of Owen's 'I-Spy' back-room boys.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
125 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Mar 2009