Don't be fooled by "Deception"

April 29, 2008, midnight | By Boris Vassilev | 13 years, 5 months ago

Would-be thriller fails on all accounts

Note to self: The next time you answer someone else's cell phone and a mysterious, sultry voice asks you if you am free that evening, quickly hang up and find a new set of friends. If only Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) had followed this fairly simple advice, the debacle of a film that is "Deception" never would have happened and movie-goers everywhere could have been spared of an hour and a half of wasted existence.

"Deception" tells the story of Jonathan, a geeky, socially repressed auditor whiling his life away with work and hating it. Enter Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), the self-confident, arrogant and uninhibited lawyer. An unlikely friendship develops, likened to Wyatt as big brother and Jonathan as his reverent and following little sibling. One day, a mix-up occurs and Jonathan finds himself answering Wyatt's cell phone to a seductive voice asking them to meet at a hotel.

And when, unheeding of the aforementioned advice, he meets the alluring owner of the voice and engages in questionable activities with her, Jonathan discovers the underground world of The List, an anonymous forum for coupling among certain people in the know. Being slightly more human and capable of attachment than the rest of The List's users, Jonathan falls for one of his encounter girls, but when she goes missing, along with a large sum of money, Jonathan's newfound life starts to fall apart, with more than a helping hand from Wyatt.

Trouble started for this film before the cameras even began rolling. Despite a fairly interesting premise, that of an underground sex network for highly successful individuals seeking sexcapades, it joins the rather boring category of thrillers who fail to do just that, thrill the audience. "Deception" advertises a movie whose interest is hinged on the risqué behaviors and immoral characters it depicts, but it restrains itself, only hinting at the nuances of these things. Instead, the film resorts to more traditional, and ultimately boring, techniques such as large bank accounts and fistfights for its kicks. This lack of a follow-through drops the movie from the level of a film like the first "Basic Instinct," a movie where the central focus, the sensuality and resulting conflict was well-carried through, to something more base, where characters resort to violence and skimp past the deep emotions.

Given the limited role, McGregor manages to pull off a fair job portraying Jonathan. Fiddling with his glasses and his slicked back hair, he plays shy and wide-eyed very well, especially in the comparison to Jackman's role. Wyatt is Jonathan's foil, clever and always holding something back, arrogant in his knowledge, something that Jackman manages superbly, especially when flashing his wolfish smile. Michelle Williams, as Jonathan's mystery girl, plays a decent, if limited role. She is one of the only people on this silver screen who manages to actually look remotely attractive given her character material. However, all the good acting in this miscast film ultimately doesn't salvage it from the depths of mediocrity.

The cinematography shown in "Deception" is another of its few redeeming features. Shot with film during the daytime and digital cameras during the night-time, the film has a steely, metallic feel to it. While this is pleasing visually, it tends to clash with the film's sensual themes, like an aluminum coffee table with a silk table cover.

"Deception" aspires to push the boundaries of its genre like its character push the boundaries of their conduct and morality. At the end of the day, or the film, as it were, it falls disappointingly short, torpedoed by its failure to follow through on its promises and actually shock the viewers for a change.

"Deception" (108 minutes) is rated Rated R for sexual content, language, brief violence and some drug use. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Boris Vassilev. THIS IS BORIS'S FIRST BIO EVER! Squirrels in the Montgomery Blair area have recently filed a restraining order against Boris. He copped their nuts and borrowed their hairstyles. (Just look at his legs!) More »

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