Acclaimed novelist Graham Greene must be rolling in his grave this weekend. His novella "Across the Bridge" is bastardized in this week's new release "Double Take". This marks the second time that Greene's literary thriller has been adapted for the silver screen, with the previous being a Rod Steiger vehicle from 1957. However, in the case of "Double Take", director George Gallo plays very loose with the source material, and has thrown together something that is part 'hesa' movie (as in "he's an uptight Wall Street broker, while he's a loud-mouthed hustler, and together they get into all sorts of wacky situations!"), part road movie, part Hitchcock suspense-thriller, part action movie, and completely incomprehensible.
The action revolves around Wall Street broker Daryl Chase (Orlando Jones of "Bedazzled"), a sedate fellow who finds himself being harassed by a loud-mouthed and ill-mannered con man with a dog, named Freddy Tiffany (Eddie Griffin, the loud-mouthed and ill-mannered man with a dog at the beginning of "Armageddon"). Unfortunately, it seems that Freddy is his only ticket out of the Big Apple when a bizarre chain of events related to a money-laundering scheme has him framed for the murder of his secretary (Vivica Fox of "Independence Day") and two police officers. Forced to trade identities with his unlikely savior (though Freddy is much smaller than him, his clothes seem to fit just fine), Daryl, along with his annoying new friend, board a train headed for south of the border. Upon his arrival in Mexico, Daryl hopes to receive protection from CIA agent T.J. McCready (Gary Grubbs of "The X-Files: Fight the Future"), who is trying to bring down a powerful drug cartel.
Of course, like any road movie, the journey to the Mexican border doesn't turn out quite as expected. In addition to dodging bullets (in a number of John Woo-inspired shootouts), the police, FBI agents who may be on the take (Daniel Roebuck of "Final Destination" and Sterling Macer Jr. of "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story"), and other assorted hazards, Daryl also conspires to get away from Freddy, who may possibly be working for the bad guys, or just plain crazy. Unfortunately, no matter what Daryl does to give his obnoxious travel companion the heave-ho, it isn't very long before Freddy's smug mug is back in his face again. And the further Daryl delves into the grand conspiracy unfolding before him, the less sure he is about whom he can trust.
Director Gallo is better known for having written one of the more memorable road movies of the Eighties, "Midnight Run", that paired Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro as an escaped Federal witness and the ill-tempered bounty hunter sent to retrieve him, respectively. With "Double Take", Gallo uses the same formula, only with much less memorable results and two much-less-capable players.
"Double Take" is the sort of film that creates suspense by pulling the rug from under the audience on a fairly frequent basis, such that nothing is as it appears to be. In addition, after the 'truth' is revealed in another scene, it is quickly contradicted by yet another 'revelation' later on. Unfortunately, when the tables get turned so often (at least every ten minutes), you very quickly become fatigued by the continuously changed premises and vacillating character motivations that arise, and stop trying to make sense of it all. And if you try to view prior events and character behavior in light of each new revelation, the overall story makes less and less sense-- somewhat akin to the arbitrary nature of the conspiracy mythology on "The X-Files". For example, when the 'big (final) reveal' is made on who Freddy is and what motivates him, everything that Freddy did prior to that point makes little sense, particularly his boorish and juvenile behavior.
"Double Take" also has little to show for itself in the acting department. Jones and Griffin are hardly leading men (their filmographies are stacked with supporting roles), which is further hampered by the fact that the characters they play are essentially insulting stereotypes armed with little more than verbal tics and bad manners. The supporting cast is also lacking, as workman-like performances are delivered by Grubbs, Garcelle Beavais ("Wild Wild West") as Daryl's model girlfriend, and Edward Herrmann (TV's "Gilmore Girls") as Daryl's so-obvious-he's-connected-somehow boss.
These days, with plenty of good films, including a number of Oscar-worthy offerings, to choose from in the megaplexes, there's little reason to waste one's time or money on an unpolished effort such as this. With its second-string actors in a third-rate script that can't keep its story straight in a plausible manner, "Double Take" is hardly worth a first look.