Based on the book by the real body double of Uday Hussein, The Devil’s Double is an okay movie about a compelling piece of history.  Although the subject matter tends to outshine the execution, it’s worth a look if you remember time and know the history.

Dominic Cooper plays Latif, an old classmate of Uday Hussein’s who is forcibly recruited to be his body double.  But anyone that has read anything about Uday Hussein knows, that’s kind of like being the body double for Charles Manson if he also ruled a small Middle Eastern country.

The plot centers mostly on Latif and one of Uday’s girlfriends, who comes to love Latif more than Uday.  Uday’s psychopathic antics are all the more chilling because it all happened.

The downside for this history buff, however, is that director Lee Tamahori can’t seem to decide if he’s directing a straight up historical recreation kind of movie or the Middle Eastern version of Scarface.  Things are changed, seemingly, for no good dramatic reasons.

(minor spoiler)  For instance, the scene from the trailer when Uday is furious with a friend of his father’s and demands Latif kill.  Latif refuses and Uday later comes back, hacks the guy up with a knife and shoots him in the face.  It’s brutal.  However, the real Uday, apparently, didn’t use a gun and used an electric carving knife instead of just a knife.  Plus, the guy he killed wasn’t holding an AK-47 at the time.  So wouldn’t the “real” events have played even better?

Little things like not having Latif’s parents talk until late in the movie undercut the impact of the final real when they are in danger.  Stuff about the Kurds also seemed to be dumbed down or omitted for the American audience.  And there’s a confusing moment with Uday’s mom, who appears and then isn’t introduced until the next shot.  (There’s also an awful CGI moment, although it only lasts a second.)  Go to Latif’s website and read all the stuff was left out of the movie and you have to wonder why didn’t the script include some that stuff?

It might be a tad unfair to judge the movie based on what could’ve been added, but it is a historic portrait of a dictator’s son.  Seems a lot of grist was just left behind to concentrate on a love story, which sadly, doesn’t really seem all that interesting or important in the context of the movie.

The most interesting part is to see the world that was Iraq and it’s ruling elite.  Again, could’ve done more, but it is interesting.  Quite frankly, there’s enough here to do a mini-series.

The movie does end on a bit of cool action and it is somewhat satisfying.  Ultimately, my expectations may have been too high going in.  Still, I think it’s definitely a good rental.  I give the Devil’s Double 6.5 keggers out of 10.