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DVDs & Blu-rays: The Double and Mockingbird

The Double

stars Richard Gere, Topher Grace and Martin Sheen.

The Setup: Ex-spies, double agents, assassins, desk jockeys and a decades-old vendetta come together in The Double. Richard Gere is Paul, the ex-spy, and Topher Grace is Ben, the FBI desk jockey he's paired with to find a Russian assassin who's just killed a U.S. senator. Martin Sheen is Tom, the head of the CIA and the man who has tapped Paul for the mission. Just to be clear, this is not a buddy movie, it's a straight-up thriller.

We're not giving anything away by saying, yes, there is a double agent, but director Michael Brandt (who shares co-writing credits with Derek Haas) manages to keep the who and why of it all under wraps to the very end. Brandt doesn't throw in any misdirects; he gives us all the information we need to figure out what's going on. Still, no matter what you think you know, you haven't got the full picture until the credits start to roll.

The Execution: We loved that while there is lots of action in The Double, Brandt keeps the focus on the characters. The story is pushed forward because Gere and Grace's characters have depth, not because they have guns. The two actors slowly peel away layers to reveal more and more about Paul and Ben and the friction between them. Both are understandable, and we like them both, even if they don't like each other very much.

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Martin Sheen doesn't have much screen time, but he gives a nice performance as an old warhorse.

The Extras: Very few, just an audio commentary with Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, a trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Also of interest: It's the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and a special Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy edition has been released. The combo-pack includes the 1962 film and a 44-page book with notes, script pages and more.

The film is considered a classic and for good reason. Gregory Peck gives a nuanced, quiet performance and the child actors, Mary Badham as Scout, Phillip Alford as her brother Jem, and John Megna as their friend Dill, are outstanding. Not to mention Robert Duvall's debut as Boo.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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