Deception (2008)

"Weak"

Deception (2008) Review


According to web reports, this Hugh Jackman/Ewan McGregor thriller was originally titled The Tourist and The List before the filmmakers and/or studio finally settled on Deception. The alternates are not exactly the most eye-catching or original titles, but both would be just as appropriate for this particular film. I can't imagine what the impetus was to find something even more generic -- or if it's even possible to come up with a more bland thriller title. Betrayal, perhaps? Dark Secrets?

This is a film that starts off with some agreeable, professional trashiness before settling into routine. This is not to say that the opening, with meek, lonely accountant Jonathan (McGregor) striking up a friendship with the slick Wyatt (Jackman), is entirely smooth going. Almost immediately, the movie suffers from casting the sly, handsome McGregor as a fumbling nebbish. The guy has both acting chops and charisma; naturally, several of his Hollywood roles ask him to trade both for an American accent. Hopefully he meets up with Colin Farrell and James McAvoy to commiserate -- or maybe he swapped stories on-set with Jackman, another good-looking overseas bloke who has alternated terrific performances with bouts of blandness.

Here, Jackman at least gets to have a little fun as a smooth operator. Wyatt introduces Jonathan to an elite cross between a party line and a phone tree: men and women, mostly of the wealthy and powerful variety, can call on each other for anonymous sexual encounters. Jonathan is drawn into this relationship-free world, while the film sort of flirts with the idea of joining him. Natasha Henstridge, Charlotte Rampling, and Maggie Q all pop by to help with the illusion of sex, trading on their various cine-sexual histories (from Henstridge's deadly, oft-naked alien in the Species films to Rampling's near-constant charge). There are flashes of nudity and the like, but all of the actresses have fleeting, almost cameo-length roles -- heating lamps flicked off before they can warm up.

The real woman of interest is supposed to be Michelle Williams, as a mysterious femme who has -- against sex-club protocol -- an actual conversation with Jonathan, setting in motion the film's supposed thrills. Williams, a surprisingly resourceful actress who here has the benefit of being lighted like some kind of golden angel, does work up a nice rapport with McGregor, even with exchanges like "you should go"/"you should stay" clanging in our ears.

Before anything interesting can come of this relationship, though, the film's women recede and Deception turns out to be one of those movies that finds illicit sex clubs altogether less interesting than the business of wire transfers, embezzling, and co-signatories on dummy bank accounts. Of course, such things can be terrifically exciting -- heist movies, for example, can thrive on the meticulous and/or ridiculous details of moving some money around. But the rather less detailed Deception wants us to get all hot and bothered watching a status bar on an electronic funds transfer, the kind of nail-biting suspense that only a studio executive could love. Maybe if they make enough movies about it, power and money will actually become the world's only aphrodisiacs.

This is an especially good-looking crap thriller; cinematographer Dante Spinotti shot Heat and The Insider for Michael Mann, and his cold, clean capturing of New York offices and shadows brings to mind the Los Angeles cityscapes of Mann's films. But that only makes the screenplay less congruous. It's as if the real script -- one worthy of these actors and production values -- was misplaced, so the producers found a last-minute substitute that had been locked in a desk drawer since the heyday of Michael Douglas, and everyone just put their heads down and forged ahead. Now that this release is past, that's probably what they should do now, too.

Why do you have to bring up Dawson's Creek every night?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Marcel Langenegger

Producer: Robbie Brenner, David L. Bushell, , , John Palermo, , Marjorie Shik

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.