||George Gallo, the screenwriter who also makes his directing debut with "Double Take," says he got the idea for the picture while watching "Across the Bridge," a British melodrama about a crook who kills his pursuer and assumes his identity, only to discover that the dead man was in bigger trouble than he was himself. Gallo found the 1957 film unintentionally ridiculous, and thought its premise could serve as the basis for an on-the-road buddy action-comedy along the lines of his one good piece of work, "Midnight Run" (1988). But the sad truth is that as dark and gloomy as that Graham Greene morality tale was, it was a positive joy beside this pathetic mess of a movie.
Gallo's convoluted script may indeed be based on "Across the Bridge," but it cribs so liberally from both "Charade" (1963) and "The In-Laws" (1979) that no one who's seen those films will be even mildly surprised by any of the twists and turns in it. Borrowing from good sources isn't a terrible crime, of course, but trashing what one steals is. Gallo's treatment utterly lacks either the charm and romance of Peter Stone's screenplay for the Stanley Donen classic or the wildness and hilarity of Andrew Bergman's for Arthur Hiller's oddball farce. "Double Take" is at once flat and grating, an irritatingly frantic and haplessly mirthless cinematic endurance test.
The picture stars Orlando Jones as an uptight Wall Street banker who goes on the run when he's wrongly accused of killing a couple of NYC cops, and Eddie Griffin as a streetwise hustler with whom he exchanges identities in order to save himself; the mindlessly complicated plot also involves Mexican drug dealers, money launderers, assassins, CIA and FBI agents, corrupt police, a few beautiful (but pretty much interchangeable) women, and lots of gunfire, explosions and car chases. None of it makes the slightest bit of sense, and it's not worth the effort to try to unravel it.
Jones and Griffin appear to be amiable fellows, and under better circumstances they might make a positive impression. But as a team they don't click at all. Jones, the straighter, more laid-back of the two, comes across as simply dull, and the flamboyant Griffin as strident and annoying. It's impossible to develop any affection for their characters, and by the time the elaborate finale plays itself out you'll find yourself longing for the comparative subtlety of Abbott and Costello. None of the other cast members offer anything but the crudest caricatures and stereotypes; one feels special sympathy for an old pro like Edward Herrmann, whose turn as Jones' boss marks yet another decline in his career, one even more demeaning than his recent stint as a huckster on TV commercials.
The year is young, and before it's over there will undoubtedly be worse movies. But for now, "Double Take" is quite bad enough.