"Would you put a billion-dollar deal in the hands of Christian Slater?"
Although “The Deal” promises a story torn from the headlines–a long-running war with billions in oil reserves as the ultimate prize, economic distress and scandals involving the highest levels of political power and big-business tycoons willing to subvert any laws in order to beef up the bottom line are just a few of the more notable ingredients–it winds up being another predictable political thriller whose various twists and turns will hardly come as surprises to anyone even vaguely familiar with the genre.The plot is a slog about an ambitious financial wizard (Christian Slater) who is asked to help broker a deal between his esteemed Wall Street firm and a powerful oil company (headed by Robert Loggia) involving oil reserves in Russia (as the U.S. is at war with the Arabs, it is illegal to purchase oil from them, leading shortages and $6-a-gallon fill-ups). The deal seems to good to be true and, with the aid of environmental activist/business major Selma Blair, Slater discovers the shocking secret behind the detail and then learns that those involved (including, I fear, the Russian mafia) will do anything to anyone in order to see it go through.
Despite having a taste for paranoid conspiracy thrillers and a fascination for big-business scandals, I found myself curiously unmoved by “The Deal.” One key problem is that the casting of Slater in the central role is simply unconvincing–it is impossible to believe that a financial firm as conservative and venerated as the one depicted here would employ him in such a high-level position. (The only explanation for his casting is that he also serves as one of the film’s producers.) The second is that while the story itself is fairly incoherent, the central conspiracy that drives it is laughably simplistic–if you are putting on a story involving complicated financial wheeling-dealing and even an economic dope like myself can figure it out about a half-hour in, your script is probably in dire need of a rewrite.As a direct-to-video film (the DVD already has an August release date), this might serve as a passable time-waster on bargain day; as a full-price movie ticket, this “Deal” just isn’t worth the investment.