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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.76%
Worth A Look: 5.88%
Average: 5.88%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap76.47%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Deception (2008)
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by Erik Childress

"A Species Reunion That Only Screws The Audience"
1 stars

Why does sex have to be such a bad thing? Everyone wants to attach some deeper meaning to it. Friendships can be ruined over it. Some women will say your body makes a commitment and then run your car off a bridge. Nobody in power will ever entertain an argument for legalized prostitution. All such complications for such a simple, pleasurable act have all but guaranteed it will never earn its place next to godliness. Thank God there’s a distinguished sex club out there for the big city glitterati. At least there is in the new film Deception where the mere possibility that such a group can exist is enough to give our fantasy lives hope in thriving in such an unforgiving, accusatory landscape. All good things though…come down to one jackoff (or Jackman) to ruin it for the rest of us. Wolverines and Cougars aside, there are more than one strokes responsible for violating their own rules and putting a name on the film that is only an introduction to what’s wrong with it.

Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) feeds into the stereotype that all auditors are stuffy, bespectled dweebs who work hard and play soft. Late at his current corporate gig he’s interrupted by his exact opposite, Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman). Slick in expensive suits, Wyatt strikes up a conversation (and then a joint) with Jonathan and begins hanging out with him in swanky clubs of the tennis and sexy dancer variety. During lunch one afternoon, they “accidentally” swap cell phones and suddenly Jonathan starts receiving calls asking “Are you free tonight?” With Wyatt off in London, the formerly flacid accountant is drawn into the world of some exclusive sex outreach program. No names. No shop talk. Just setup an appointment, pay for the hotel and get down to business. Nice, right?

After planting his seed in half the cubs, cougars and Charlotte Ramplings in the tri-state area, Jonathan again crosses path with the girl he missed out on in the subway (Michelle Williams). He does his best to break all the rules (trying to find out her name, having dinner instead of sex, etc…) and she obliges him enough for a second date. Just before fulfilling their destiny though (getting ice at the worst possible time), Jonathan comes back to find her missing, some blood stains on the bed and an intruder with a mean punch. With little to go on but the first letter of her name, Jonathan gets some help from Wyatt, who returns just in time to let him know that he’s been setting him up this whole time and that he expects the money manager to embezzle millions or the girl dies. If this is a development you didn’t see coming by the 43-minute mark then clearly you thought you bought a ticket for Then She Found Me.

Originally entitled The List (and changed possibly to avoid confusion with a direct-to-video project with Malcolm McDowell Fox has coming out in June or evil, uppity Cancer flicks), there’s little doubt that things are going to eventually take a turn for the worst in a film calling itself Deception. In its defense, Bad Influence, Derailed and Fight Club were already taken. What’s utterly baffling though is why screenwriter Mark Bomback would rather go through the motions on such an utterly routine concoction of stale thriller elements when he’s already raking the spices of a potentially fascinating and lurid element of above ground sexual rendezvouses. Didn’t the debuting Marcel Langenegger notice that he’s directing THE Charlotte Rampling in her underwear explaining to Ewan McGregor (who’s probably had more on-screen sex then George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Burt Reynolds combined) the machinations of the “don’t ask, just screw” hotline? This is a guy whom you’ve introduced to us as so pathetic and sexless that even the immigrants cleaning the office are sneaking into the bathroom to mop the floor Costanza-style. Even when he says smoking pot with a lawyer is the most fun he’s had since he “saw Van Halen in Vegas” we immediately assume it was during the Gary Sharone year.

Intimacy without intricacy.” What a tagline for both your movie and for new recruits to “the list.” Weren’t Bomback and Langenegger eager as (I presume) men to explore, like Jonathan, how far the spider hole goes? Even if it took them towards the cliched moral quandaries of sex without love or, how about, some corporate corruption using their influence to make an extra buck and thus, like they always do, screw up a good thing? The most baffling aspect of Deception is not that it becomes a half-assed thriller (a genre that tends to sell better than introspective sexual melodramas) but that Bomback’s script finds a way to completely disengage the thriller plot from the sex club itself. Jackman could just as well have got McGregor drunk, pay a hooker and blackmail away. Once the film shifts gears, at no point (except for an expository scene that exists more to show Maggie Q in a thong than to remind us that the film was once about a sex club) does Jackman’s plan tie-in to the film’s distracting and far more intriguing setup.

The film makes no shadows in Wyatt’s obvious deception in not one, but two instances in making Jonathan believe that he knows the people he’s conversing with. Both an office worker and an apartment neighbor (played by the film’s legendary cinematographer, Dante Spinotti) shoot Wyatt obvious confused looks. Wyatt’s involvement with a member of the sex club (or is she?) makes little sense to her ultimate role in the deception. Since blackmail is never a factor until Jonathan calls Wyatt’s initial bluff with some research, why isn’t his distraction with all the other women enough for him to put his scheme in motion? Jonathan is no genius either. While there really is no lapse in the legality of the club (consenting adults doing what they do with no money changing hands), is it really in his best interest to involve the cops on a case they won’t be able to solve anyway since he doesn’t know Williams’ name? If Wyatt was so interested in keeping him from the cops, why did he bother to plant blood and then clean it up while Jonathan was unconscious? Can you really strangle someone with a piece of tennis wire? Wouldn’t it be too short to get a serious grip? Once an actual picture of the very woman he’s trying to convince the cops actually exists is placed right in his hands, does he take it to them as obvious proof that someone is putting the screws to him? Nope. Which probably doesn’t even make the top five of stupid things Jonathan does through the course of the film. The granddaddy of which has to be during the finale, which without giving anything away, all I’ll say is to keep your eyes on the cases.

So with Rampling tossed aside, you still have a reunion of the young Sil and the old Sil from Species, only to have one keep her clothes on and the other use an obvious body double. Not that I have a one-track mind or anything but its more than what’s required when sitting through Deception which has the audacity of pretension to believe its final act to be some homage to the New Wave thrillers of the ‘60s. Just because you have a European setting with some guns and unrequited lovers, doesn’t mean you can protract the ending out like you’re some distant cousin on the Fellini tree. Langenegger shows no particular grace with the section that’s supposed to be sexy (most of it is thrown into a montage) and zero style or skill when it comes to the suspense portion of the evening. Bomback (formerly of Godsend) and his decidedly un-tantric-like ability to turn fantasy into boredom forces us to watch good actors slug their way through a straight maze proving that even the writers of Firewall TRIED. I know in our world of cinematic reciprosity that our heroes must pay for their lustful urges. But what of the real world virgins plunking down their money for Deception to offer some hope that if they apply themselves and make their way up the corporate elite that they could have some good, hot sex with the babes of the WB? What crime did they commit other than buying a ticket to Deception?

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originally posted: 04/25/08 14:00:00
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User Comments

2/24/14 Donald Weintraub I loved this movie !!!! 5 stars
7/10/11 The Big D David A. is right--it has many similarities to Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. 4 stars
2/22/10 Kevin Mallory Somewhere between average and pretty bad but some will enjoy the performances 3 stars
4/15/09 David A. It's an Alfred Hitchcock style suspense story. I know it got bad reviews, but I love it. 5 stars
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  25-Apr-2008 (R)
  DVD: 23-Sep-2008


  DVD: 23-Sep-2008

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