DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Deception - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}Deception is a slimy, sleazy, and totally defiled piece of work filled with rampant nudity, morally questionable characters and wanton sexuality - like something straight out of Hollywood's pre-production code era. Now for the negatives. The film is also ludicrous, careless and completely unsatisfying - like what we've come to know from today's creatively bankrupt Hollywood. Even though director Marcel Langenegger does an admirable job of keeping the proceedings mysterious and absorbing through the first reel, by the time the film runs its course, we've lost interest in this darkly schizophrenic could-have-been.

Ewan MacGregor plays Jonathan McQuarry, a mousy, middle-aged accountant too lost in corporate number crunching to think about starting a family. His life is empty and he hasn't even allowed himself to feel emotion for other humans... until one night while working late where he meets Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), a hotshot lawyer who befriends him and warms him out of his shell. After accidentally switching cell phones with Bose, McQuarry begins to get calls from mysterious women asking "are you free tonight?" He tries to explain he's not who the callers thinks he is, but quickly finds himself caught up in some sort of high-rolling sex club where name exchange is forbidden, and no questions are asked... but where all participants delight in the anonymous carnal frivolity.

DeceptionBut on one particular random roll of the booty call speed-dialer, McQuarry meets up with the lovely blonde, S (Michelle Williams), whom he encountered briefly in a subway station months before. He breaks one of the most widely known rules of this sex club when he begins to have romantic feelings for S, but before he can say "no, no... I'll get some ice," the suspected femme fatale suddenly disappears from their hotel room, leaving only a bloody mess.

Up to this point, Deception has been a finely crafted noir thriller that revels in its steamy, molten-hot seductiveness. It's almost tacky, but mesmerizing all the same. Despite it being Langenegger's first film, he moves through the plot like a veteran, tingeing it with a consistent visual style, a trait rarely seen with first timers. His film's mood of eroticism and passion takes us by surprise, as it takes on the aura of a scalding sex dream. Then Mark Bomback's pesky script begins to take over, marking the exact point where this thrilling locomotive of love jumps the tracks.

After finding himself the victim of the film's titular intent, McQuarry finally catches up with what we suspected all along. That perhaps the sex club isn't necessarily as it appears. And seemingly, neither is his collection of friends, enemies, lovers, and acquaintances. We're then inundated with a series of painfully obvious deceptions, double-crosses, and mistaken identities that completely blow what little credibility the story had built, out of the water. What was once a sexy and intriguing mystery with style, is now left in a frozen pile of disgust and indifferent. Oh, what could have been!

There is a bit of satisfaction in watching three veteran actors performing at the top of their game, but neither is really asked to stretch. Even though the film identifies itself a bit uniquely as a character-driven thriller, none of the characters are particularly sympathetic, save for McGregor's McQuarry. He starts as a rather pathetic milquetoast of a man so detached from human interaction that people have conversations about him... in his presence. But he eventually blossoms into a four thousand dollar suit-wearing, symbol of Madison Avenue prosperity armed with the personal phone numbers and sexual permission of New York's co-ed corporate elite.

Cinematographer Dante Spinotti's visual treatment nearly steals the show as his use of both digital and conventional film photography lend the film its dreamy, seductive quality. The exterior night shots are absolutely gorgeous, painting New York with a similar visual treatment Los Angeles received in 2004's Collateral.

By the time Deception's final scenes roll around we've had enough. Our trust and interest in what happens to the characters and the story itself is long gone, washed away in a sea of absurd plot contrivances and excessive twists. Even great performances by the trio of Hollywood's hottest aren't enough to save this one from its own faults.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
2 stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
2.5 stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; making-of featurette; deleted scenes; Club Sexy; trailer farm.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with with director Marcel Langenegger.
* Featurettes
o Exposing the Deception: The Making of the Film (18:06)
o Club Sexy (10:01)
* Deleted Scenes
o Added Deception: Deleted Scenes (totaling 4:54)
* Previews

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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