July 31st, 2011
“The Devil’s Double” Is A Bloody, Gritty Film

Latif Yahia is a soldier who is handpicked by Uday Saddam Hussein, son of the more infamous Saddam Hussein, to be his body double during the Iran-Iraq conflict in the film “The Devil’s Double.” At first Latif refuses, but Uday and his thugs soon show him that “no” is not an acceptable answer. In fact, Uday calls Latif his brother, but treats him as a piece of property. Latif’s eventual acceptance opens the door to a world of fast cars, excess, greed, women and endless parties all to the background of international military interventions.

He walks a thin line because he wants to avoid becoming just like the man he is supposed to be impersonating. He struggles to walk that line especially when all eyes are on him. Not everything is what it appears because Latif has to make a choice between ruling in hell rather than being a servant in heaven. Lee Tamahori directs this movie, although he does it with a shaky hand. This is a return to glory of sorts. He directed 2002’s James Bond movie “Die Another Day”, but then his legacy was tainted by his involvement in the Ice Cube fronted “XXX” sequel and Nicolas Cage’s debacle “Next.”

This was a good project for him, although to be quite honest, the sadistic antics of Uday Hussein are hard to believe, but fact is harsher than fiction. Dominic Cooper plays the role of Uday and Latif with such zeal, sometimes it is hard to tell who Cooper is playing on the screen. The last time we saw Cooper, he was playing Howard Starks (Iron Man’s dad) in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” French actress Ludivine Sagnier plays Uday’s disposable lover and Latif’s forbidden love interest.

Why you should see this movie: This movie has been compared to 2006’s “Last King of Scotland” which in itself was a great movie. However, what separates the movies is that Uday Hussein is portrayed as a version of Idi Amin possessed by Tony Montana. Cooper is a fine leading man. Cooper portrays a villain whose depths of evil are unmatched. There are not any redeeming values to this man, as he grows despicable with every frame. Just when you think he cannot get any more loathsome, Uday does his worst to retain his depravity. He goes from raping a woman on her wedding day to picking up underaged school girls.

Why you should not see this movie: This movie is really hard to watch, in the sense that it is really bloody. It makes you feel uncomfortable at times, as Hussein slices and dices through those who oppose him or do not fall into his favor. This movie also falls into a repetitive funk where it appears as if Tamahori simply directs the action into a party, kill, body double revolt loop.

The Bottom Line: This movie is gritty, and worth seeing. Cooper does a great job, and if anything it helps his star shine brighter. Its strengths more than make up for its weaknesses. Betrayal and murders keep the action moving in a positive way. The party scenes are just excuses for Uday Hussein to lose his mind and the torture scenes go on forever to the point where they are nauseating. It is a portrait of a man who was born on third but thinks he hit a triple.

This movie is currently in limited release, but you should still do yourself the favor and go find it, because it is worth the hunt. I am sure it will go into wider release in the near future, basing its success on good word of mouth. You would do yourself a disservice if you miss it.

Follow Oscar Barajas on Twitter @Oscarcoatl

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