Two ex-government agents turned rival industrial spies have to be at the top of their game when one of their companies prepares to launch a major product. However, they distract each other in more ways than one.
Ray works for MI6, Claire for the CIA. She burns him in Dubai. Jump ahead five years: he sees her in Grand Central and confronts her. Both now work in industrial security for corporate giants whose CEOs hate each other. Flashbacks fill us in: is it coincidence that he sees her in Grand Central? In about a week, one of the firms is going to announce a revolutionary product. Under the guise of helping that corporation's rival, can Ray and Claire work their own theft and find an independent buyer? To work together, using the corporate rivalry to their advantage, they would have to trust one another - difficult, if not impossible. Or, is one playing the other?
- Duplicity starts out in Dubai at an outdoor party. Ray (Clive Owen) walks up to Claire (Julia Roberts) and says he noticed they had been checking each other out. Claire insists she had not been, but she ends up going back to his hotel room with him. We then cut to several shots of a drugged Ray lying on his bed while Claire searches his room and checks his pulse. It seems she had been on a mission and is stealing some important documents from him.
There is a scene in slow motion with Garsick (Paul Giamatti) and Tully (Tom Wilkinson) each standing in front of their respective company planes surrounded by a set of each of their employees. They are shouting angrily at each other (it is silent though, we just see their mouths moving) and suddenly start fighting each other. They are clearly rival CEOs.
We are then taken five years later. Ray is holding a mini Rubik's cube key chain and walks into a department store, where he spots Claire. He walks up to say hi and Claire pretends to know him, until she finally admits that she doesn't remember him. He asks if she is going to play it that way, meaning pretending not to know him. He tells her he is bad with names, a B or a B+ with faces, but he has traditionally been good with remembering people he's slept with. He knocks her bag over by accident, and the same Rubik's cube key chain falls out. They get real and realize they were each others' contacts. Claire reluctantly gives Ray a piece of paper to give to Duke (who we do not know yet). They talk in a bar where Ray tries to get Claire to apologize for Dubai. Claire tells him that she has been working for 14 months undercover at a company and has a high position so he'd better not mess it up. Ray threatens to expose her unless she fully cooperates with him for the rest of the mission.
Ray brings the paper to some sort of lab or hideout that is run by Garsick's people, including Duke and Pam. It seems like the paper is a rough draft of a speech that Tully will be delivering. As Tully formally delivers his speech to all of his employees back at his company, we cut back and forth between him speaking and Garsick reading the rough draft aloud. Garsick realizes that this speech is about Tully's company discovering some new product and Garsick wants to find out what it is so he can steal the idea.
Two years ago, in Rome, Ray is sitting at an outdoor café with a woman. She goes inside, and as he waits, he spots Claire. He follows her to her moped and says hi. Claire pretends to know him, until she finally admits that she doesn't. He asks if she is going to play that way, and tells her he is bad with names, a B or B+ with faces, but he has traditionally been good with remembering people hes slept with. She admits she knows him and apologizes for what happened in Dubai. She says she was on assignment. They end up back at his lavish hotel room and stay there for three days getting reacquainted.
On the third day, Claire realizes her wake up call never came and she has missed her flight. Ray asks when she made the wake up call, and Claire admits she sneaked out of the tub with him the night before to make it. After some back and forth, Ray admits he cancelled the wake up call and now they are even for Dubai. It seems they are on good terms and really care for each other and are going to start a relationship. They agree that it would be great if they could work together to steal millions of dollars and then they could live in Rome together in happiness.
Back to the present day, Garsick's people are analyzing Tully's acquisitions over the last 18 months to figure out what this product is. They realize he made 7 purchases in one day and then investigate travel records relating to these purchases. They come to the conclusion that Tully is working with a young genius named Ronny Partiz. Ronny graduated college at a young age and got caught plagiarizing a paper. He made some formula for lotion, and then it is clarified that it is actually a cream. Ronny now lives in the Bahamas, where they believe he has developed a cure for baldness.
Fourteen months ago, Claire visits Ray and he is very excited to see her. She asks about a thong she found in his closet, but he insists that it's impossible. She admits that it was hers and she needed to hear him say that he didn't cheat on her. Ray tells her about a job with a frozen pizza company. He thinks this should be their big plan to make their millions. There are two competing companies trying to work on different types of frozen pizza, and when there is competition, there are checks being written. Claire tells him that she was offered a job at Tully's company yesterday and took it. He is a little angry, until she gets him to admit that he took the job at the pizza company already, too. They agree to work separately for a while, but will maintain their relationship.
In the present, Ray and Boris, another man from Garsick's team, are in the Bahamas to track down Ronny. They are at a casino watching him. Claire and Dale, another of Tully's employees, are seen planting things in a hotel room that would imply that the guest was planning to cheat. Cut back to the casino, and we see Claire and Dale escorting Ronny out, as security arrests Ray and Boris. One of the security guards is actually somehow from Ray's team, so it is implied that he got released.
Tully is in a private meeting with Claire and tells her that he wants to tell her what their special and secret product is. He says she can protect it better if she is in on what it is. He tells her about the baldness cure.
Duke and another man on his team reveal to Ray that they had tape recorded his initial meeting with Claire and are angry he didn't tell them he knew her. They play back the conversation and we hear Ray's line about being a B or B+ with names and great with people he's slept with. Suddenly, the men start laughing. It seems they believed that Ray and Claire hadn't spoken since Dubai (although we know otherwise), and think it's hilarious how Ray really stuck it to her and called her out. They tell Ray that Claire had requested a personal meeting with Garsick to reveal something big and he has to go with.
Cut to a few months ago (possibly two months ago). Claire is telling Ray about the big new product at Tully's company and says she thinks she can get him a job as an agent in Garsick's team. He is reluctant because the pizza business is really heating up because they are developing a new Hawaiian flavor. She gets him to agree to quit his job and take the agent position.
Back in the present, Garsick and Ray are at a bowling alley when Claire shows up. Garsick asks if she wants any food or drinks, when Ray says she's fine. Claire says she's starving and wants Ray to get her some frozen pizza. Ray goes to order the pizza and sees that is the pizza of the company he had been competing against. Claire leaves so Ray rushes over. He is too late to find out what she said.
Ray rushes back to his apartment to check his passports and money and sees that half of everything is gone. He sees Claire outside and she admits she was hurt by finding out Ray had slept with someone as part of his job to gain access to Tully's company. She says it's strictly business between them now. She gets a phone call and has to leave immediately to go to Tully's business.
At Tully's we see Dale handcuffed to a chair because he had tried to steal Ronny's hair growth formula. Claire tapes Dale's eyes and mouth closed and takes the formula. She calls Ray, who is at the hideout. Garsick's team had rigged several photocopiers in Tully's building to send a copy of whatever is photocopied to Garsick's hideout. Ray asks Pam and an IT guy to figure out where the nearest photocopier is so Claire can copy the formula. Claire copies it once, and Ray holds the copy on his end up to Pam with a blank sheet in front of it to show it didn't work and stuffs it in his pocket. Claire does it again and Ray says it worked.
Later, Garsick's team is having a celebration over the fact that they got the formula. Claire bursts in and is angry that she had to risk her job and wants a new identity. She calls Ray out for stealing the formula and leaves. They search Ray and see the formula in his bag.
At the airport, Claire waits for Ray and he eventually shows up. They both admit they love each other and that they both have the formula. Ray has another copy and Claire has it in a picture on her cell phone. They leave for Switzerland to sell the formula.
We cut back and forth between Claire and Ray trying to sell the formula and Garsick making a gigantic speech to his shareholders about his new product (the stolen baldness cure). As scientists hired by the Swiss check out the validity of the formula, Garsick continues to talk. The scientists talk to the Swiss businessman, who turns to Claire and Ray and says that the formula is for a simple lotion. He corrects himself and says it is for a cream. Claire and Ray know they have been played.
Cut to 10 days ago. Claire and Ray are in their hotel room. Claire is on the bed and reading from a script. Claire says she doesn't remember Ray. Ray says that he is bad with faces, a B or B+ with names, and great with people he's slept with. Claire corrects his mistakes from the script and tells him she prefers when he says he's traditionally great with people he's slept with. They talk about how they have to get this perfect because they will have to do it for real in 12 hours. We see that their room is bugged. On the other end of the bug, Tully, Dale, Ronny, and Pam (from Garsick's team), are listening to Claire and Ray. Tully says this is perfect. Dale reports that they let Claire find the rough draft last week. They talk about how they are going to use Ronny's real life story and add in the parts about the cure for baldness. Ronny says he is going back to the Bahamas after this meeting. This had all been a plan to bring down Garsick by letting him think they had this new product that doesn't exist.
We see Claire and Ray sitting in the Swiss hotel, when a man brings them over Champagne with a note saying that it was from Tully. They talk about how they only have each other now.