Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence and torture, sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and pervasive language
New Zealand director Lee Tamahori made a huge splash with his first film Once Were Warriors back in 1994. Tamahori revealed a violent, but compelling world populated by troubled souls struggling to retain their humanity in the face of hardship. His third film The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, written by David Mamet, wasn't brilliant but did show a director with a talent for conflict and character. He then descended into making typical Hollywood pap such as Die Another Day, xXx: State of the Union, Along Came a Spider andNext. These weren't horrible films...okay, xXx is horrible, I take that back - but a resume shouldn't be filled with films that can easily be described by how they avoided being torturous. Thankfully, Tamahori has returned to his strong suit, the character-driven drama with The Devil's Double. He remind us of his early promise and delivers the kind of film he should have been producing all along.
Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger
) commands this film with a Oscar-worthy dual performance as Uday Hussein and his body-double Latif Yahia. He outlines two very specific and equally engaging characters. This is particularly impressive given that the two are identical, which is the whole point of the film. Cooper's Hussein is a great study of a mentally disturbed man-boy. He is impulsive, brutal yet completely emotionally vulnerable. The film makes sense of Hussien's infamous violent outbursts, murders and using torture for amusement. It doesn't condone his actions, of course, but one comes away seeing how his own tormented psyche would result in such behavior.
Worldview: The old saying "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is on display in this production. The Hussien family rule was one of the most despotic, brutal regimes in recent world history. This look into the inner workings of the family reveals the reason why man cannot rule without God.
The corruption we all know comes with increased power isn't because we become godlike, but rather because it exposes just how human we really are. The more godlike someone believes himself to be, the more he thinks he can rise above God's laws, the more he descends into hell. You can gorge on the buffet of sin, but you will never be filled and the chasing of actual satisfaction and power will never be complete. This leads to greater and greater corruption of the mind and soul and by extension of the office the person holds.
Uday was able to experience transitory thrills, but they were mere flashes of excitement. He continually needed to up the ante to keep feeling in control. This is what led to his rape rooms and torture chambers. He had no one he could trust, no one he could know loved him. He was a pathetic, abused man who lashed out to feed his own urges. His continual need to express his power wasn't done to rule. It was done as a childish reminder that he had some control of his life. Again, this comes from living outside of God. When we come to understand that no matter our place on this Earth we do not possess any control whatsoever. It is He who has the steering wheel. When we attempt drive on our own, we quickly fly off the road.
Content: This is not a film for the family. There is plenty of sex and violence. Uday was known for cruelty, including the kidnapping and sexual torture of school girls. These incidents are documented in the film, although in a reserved fashion.