The Devil's Double, Lee Tamahori, 108 mins (18)
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, José Padilha, 115 mins (18)
The Interrupters, Steve James, 125 mins, (15)

Operation Desert Pants has run out of gas? Thank goodness for double agent Dominic

I t takes a special kind of monster to be deemed a dangerous liability by Saddam Hussein, but Uday Hussein was just such a loon. He was Saddam's eldest son, as well as a homicidal maniac and serial rapist.

But he was sane enough to employ lookalikes to take his place in public whenever an assassination attempt seemed likely – that is, most of the time. The Devil's Double is based on the life story of one such lookalike, Latif Yahia. At the start of the film, in 1987, he's a lieutenant in the Iraqi army, but after Uday makes him an offer he can't refuse, he's thrown into a playboy world of champagne, cocaine and gold-plated guns.

It's a fantastically fertile premise for a gangster movie, and it's the showcase of a lifetime for Dominic Cooper, who plays both the lead roles. Often acting opposite himself, he's skilful enough that you can always tell immediately which of the two men you're watching – the quiet, wary Latif or the giggling, strutting Uday. You even fear for Latif's safety, forgetting for a moment that the person threatening him is played by the very same actor.

It's a pity that the film around him isn't quite so impressive. It could just have stuck to the nauseating facts of Uday's life, or it could have used them as the foundations of a fictional thriller, but Michael Thomas's script falls between these two stools. For most of its running time, The Devil's Double is a fascinating but superficial magazine article about Uday's excesses, but later it bolts on some hackneyed B-movie complications which are so absurd that they make you doubt the truth of everything that's gone before. It's still a watchable film, but Latif – and Cooper – deserved better.

Elite Squad, released in the UK in 2008, was a huge hit at home in Brazil, and rightly so. Not only was it a thorough dissection of corruption and gang culture in Rio de Janeiro, it also had characters you cared about and some of the most nerve-jangling action sequences in recent cinema. These sequences, however, led to criticisms that Elite Squad was an apology for police brutality: its paramilitary heavy mob, the Skulls, tackled the crime in Rio's favelas by torturing and shooting anyone who got between them and a drug dealer.

One of the intriguing things about the sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, is that it addresses those criticisms. It introduces a human rights activist who condemns the Skulls, and it relegates the first film's take-no-prisoners hero, Wagner Moura, to an office job where he discovers that the city's governors make the drug barons he's used to seem like choirboys. It's a rare sequel that honours and expands on its predecessor. However, by shifting the focus from Rio's mean streets to its corridors of power, The Enemy Within loses the juddering impact that made Elite Squad so exhilarating.

There's more inner-city unrest – an issue which confronted us all last week – in The Interrupters, a documentary by Steve James, the director of Hoop Dreams (1994). His subject is CeaseFire, an organisation of "violence interrupters" who intervene whenever they hear of a fight breaking out in Chicago's poorest neighbourhoods. The interrupters try to pacify people on a case-by-case basis, rather than rooting out the cause of the trouble, and the documentary, too, concentrates on a few individuals rather than asking why whole sections of America's cities have become war zones. It feels like a cop-out compared with the more political Hoop Dreams, but The Interrupters is still a deeply moving documentary. The men and women it profiles are more heroic, and for the most part more charismatic, than any of the make-believe heroes you'll see at the cinema this year.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber sees Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in Cowboys & Aliens

Also Showing: 14/08/2011

The Smurfs (103 mins, U)

Belgium's blue gnomes are magically transported to New York, where they teach Neil Patrick Harris the supposedly important life lesson that it's wrong to want a bigger apartment. File it below Mr Popper's Penguins, but above Zookeeper, with which it shares a man-pees-in-the-middle-of-a-posh-restaurant scene.

Beautiful Lies (115 mins, 12A)

Audrey Tautou plays an Amélie-ish hairdresser – she's even called Emilie – who passes on an anonymous love letter to her lonely mother. It's an overlong but well-assembled romantic comedy, à la the 1940s James Stewart romcom, The Shop Around the Corner.

The Salt of Life (98 mins, 12A)

Rome's Woody Allen, Gianni Di Gregorio (Mid-August Lunch) writes, directs and stars in this rueful comedy about a put-upon retiree who tries and fails to chat up younger women.

The Taqwacores (83 mins, 15)

Grungy American indie drama about Muslim punk rockers.

Film Choice

J J Abrams out-Spielbergs Spielberg with Super 8, a nostalgic tale of teenage film-makers who meet a creature from outer space in small-town 1970s America. In Arrietty, Studio Ghibli's adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers, each of the miniature people have more charm than all 100 of the Smurfs combined.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future