STARRING: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen

Pretty shady woman: Roberts and Owen

Hats off to Tony Gilroy, the writing and directing brains behind 2007’s Michael Clayton, for calling the creative shots with another ripper. Gilroy’s new playing field is the intrigue-soaked world of big-time Manhattan-based pharmaceutical companies — and who knew that the manufacture of shampoo, toothpaste and whatnot requires entire intelligence departments to monitor the opposition? Gilroy does, for one, which is where the perennially divine Roberts and the reliably suave Owen come in as ex-government operatives Claire Stenwick and Ray Koval.


Claire and Ray are born liars and secret lovers who have chucked their agency jobs —she at the CIA, he at MI6 — to covertly team up to fleece the corporate sector by getting their nimble hands on the latest of the essence product formula. This is no breeze down Broadway, involving multiple levels of subterfuge (and neatly intermingled flashbacks detailing their ticklish romantic relationship). Also “in play”, as the smoothie fraudsters like to put it, are a plethora of luxey locales — Dubai, Rome, London, Miami — and fast-talking performances; Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti weigh in as scurrilous CEOs hell-bent on making the most of it all. Surprise surprise surprise…