(On Cable TV, February 2014) Perhaps the most interesting thing about dictators is how they represent a case study in what happens with humans given almost-unlimited power. So it is that The Devil’s Double imagines a fanciful story about an ordinary man coerced into becoming Uday Hussein’s doppelganger. Along the way, he discovers the insanity of the man, tries to escape and take revenge for what he has seen. Dominic Cooper doubly stars as both Uday and his double, relying on basic but effective acting tricks so that there is never a moment’s hesitation in knowing who we’re dealing with. The Devil’s Double is never as interesting as when it becomes an excuse to dramatize the life of excess in which Uday Hussein lived: fast cars, faster women, unchecked power and blatant sadism all abound here. What’s less compelling is the by-the-numbers nature of the story, which adheres faithfully to the good-old templates for innocents brought near sources of raw power –it does feel a lot like a gangster film. Also rather less than interesting is the film’s raw violence, which often crosses far beyond the necessary to indulge into sheer gore. Director Lee Tamahori keeps things moving briskly, and gets a great performance from Cooper… but the end result does feel too conventional. Worse yet: The Devil’s Double is based on a book that pretends to be a true story, but investigations have revealed no evidence that this ever happened. At least we get a passable thriller out of the fanciful story.