With the way science is going, the ideas and mechanisms in Dual could be closer than we think. For as long as humans have been able to clone other organisms, they’ve pondered the questions about cloning humans. Dual asks the question about the morality of cloning and how it would work if someone is terminally ill. Presented in a way that’s similar to the “Recall” corporate videos from Total Recall, if you’re terminally ill, your new replicant or clone basically takes over your life. It’s not an exact clone of you, however. This person has your looks, your voice, but not your thoughts, feelings, or even temperament. The central idea of Dual is if this is moral and what would people do in this situation.
The twist in the film is that our main character Sarah, played by Karen Gillan, is terminally ill, until she isn’t. Her diagnosis gets better, and normally in a situation like this, the replica is decommissioned. This time, Sarah’s clone, also played by Gillan, petitions to live. In that situation, the only recourse is to set up a duel to the death. The central storyline of the film is the preparation and the buildup to the duel between the two Sarahs. It’s what Dual does differently that sets it apart from the crowd.
Director/Writer Riley Stearns crafted a story that both follows the normal archetypes and motifs that are in these types of sci-fi stories while also tweaking them to make it stand out. Without spoiling anything, the story takes some incredible twists and turns but ends up right where you think it’ll go.
Karen Gillan Is Robotic In One Role And It Works For The Film
This is entirely Karen Gillan’s movie. She pulls double duty and has to play a clone that’s vastly different from the main character. They might have the same faces, bodies, and other features, but Sarah’s copy is conniving, almost emotionless, and provides an interesting foil. Through her journey, we see less of Sarah’s copy and because of the impending duel, she becomes more of an idea than a person she has to fight. It’s what drives Sarah, and it gets to a point where she’ll kill her no matter what. When you think that the movie is building up to the duel, it changes course, and that’s for the better.
The surrounding characters do their roles well, Sarah’s boyfriend, Peter, played by Beulah Koale, has something to hide. Throughout the beginning of the film, he’s away on business and there’s very clearly something off about his behavior with Sarah on video chat. Koale plays his part really well, making you feel for him when he has to tell Sarah that she’s terminally ill, but also hate him when he sides with Sarah’s replica over her. It’s a heartbreaking and painfully awkward scene when Sarah walks in on Peter, Clone Sarah, and her mom conversing without her.
Aaron Paul Highlights The Supporting Cast
Aaron Paul plays Trent, the combat trainer that Sarah hires to prepare for her duel. While Paul is fantastic in his short time in the film, this is probably the biggest missed opportunity. His character is mysterious and goes to sometimes extreme lengths to get Sarah prepared for her duel. The scenes between Trent and Sarah are the best ones in the film. They add to the dread bubbling under the surface of the impending fight, but also help Sarah’s character evolve and grow throughout the film.
Dual leaves him off in a weird spot in the film and he isn’t mentioned again. It doesn’t help that the last thing we see is an incredibly distasteful scene where an animal is killed. It doesn’t help the film in any way, and it comes out of nowhere. I would have liked more scenes involving him and Sarah’s training. Also, there’s a nice redirect when you think he might be a scummy guy for offering “different ways to pay for his services” to Sarah. There’s something to this idea with Trent training people for their duels, but the movie doesn’t go any further than using him as a secondary character to Sarah’s narrative.
Dual Has Great Ideas But Doesn’t Stick The Landing
Dual has some great ideas and fresh takes on the clone sci-fi genre, but it doesn’t quite hit where it needs to. The ending is predictable at a certain point and it really hits you over the head with commentary on daily life. The film leaves you with more questions than answers, which is normally a good thing. Here, it’s just a bit confusing, and seems like they needed to change the formula one more time.
The world that Dual builds might be more interesting than the actual film. Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, and Beulah Koale are all fantastic in their roles, with Gillan playing two parts, and Koale basically playing two parts with how his character “changes”. However, it feels like we should have more from Dual. In most cases, creating something and stretching it out for a series isn’t the right way to go. In this case, it might’ve been the right choice. Dual comes in at just over an hour and a half, and it feels like it’s missing so much in regards to the world and the characters.
It’s a good film that has great performances from the leads, but it doesn’t do enough to make it stand out. There’s an incredible premise here that just doesn’t shine enough in the time it’s given.
Dual is in theaters right now.
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