Heather's DVD Movie Review: Deception
Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor had always been known for their acting and singing prowess in whatever film they carry. Can they carry a thriller together? Unfortunately, the answer was a resounding no in the disappointingly cliché DVD release of Deception.
The film began in typical thriller fashion with a meek Jonathan McQuarry (McGregor), an awkward accountant, in search of the ultimate New York City nightlife. Enter Wyatt Bose (Jackman), a slick lawyer at one of the firms Jonathan was auditing. He immediately injected a sense of adventure in Jonathan's hum drum life by giving a backstage pass into the most exclusive clubs. Wyatt also inadvertently gave him access to an exclusive sex club known as "The List" when Jonathan took his cell phone by mistake. Not surprisingly, Jonathan proceeded to have a nightly rendezvous with various random female callers to occupy his time until a special woman entered his life. He met the woman known only as "S" (Michelle Williams) on the subway and now as one of the female callers. Does Jonathan have a chance with the stranger or only one night of bliss?
Unfortunately, Jonathan's mystery woman disappeared before he got the opportunity to find out. He tried to find her but was only left with questioning looks from police detectives based on the fact there was no evidence of her. Jonathan's life went from exciting to deadly in record time with Wyatt's true colors being known as the titular deception, a mirage instead of a man. The only trail Jonathan found of him was a trail of crime and greed. The stakes were raised as soon as Jonathan tried to challenge Wyatt and placed him in the crosshairs of the police yet again. Can Jonathan outfox Wyatt before he disappeared into the ether of another con? Was the answer obvious from the start?
Deception was an okay film that didn't go beyond typical thriller plot norms, which echoed a mix of Bad Influence and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Both films mixed elements of the battle between a meek character and a smooth manipulator. Jackman mimicked more Rob Lowe twisted psycho from Influence than Damon's chameleon from Ripley. Jackman's Wyatt used the plot to push Jonathan's buttons to great lengths. The only Ripley rip-off was a scene where Wyatt spent time changing his appearance for his exit strategy. McGregor's character seemed to do little except be the perfect chess pawn. There were too few surprises for this film to be more memorable than an afterthought. The film had more potential than what was explored. A possible solution could've been to make the film longer to explore the background of "The List" a little bit more to flesh out the plot. That would've been a little better to improve on the clichéd blackmail scheme that dominated the last half of the movie.
Jackman's performance as the ultimate deception was chilling on its own, but it was marred due to the film's weak plot. He wasn't onscreen enough to give much of an impression beyond a typical thriller script his character read from for dramatic effect. He went for a grand slam performance that fell just short of the bleachers. Jackman proved he had the ability of playing the role of a more than capable psychopath as Wyatt Bose, the invisible man who could blend in anywhere. If given the right role, Jackman could be in the junior league of Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter. No actor will ever be quite there but close enough to creep out the audience. His performance would've been stronger if Wyatt's background was expanded a little bit more to show more than a one note sinister side.
McGregor's attempt at being meek suited him wonderfully for the film but he was better when he developed a backbone. His stride improved and his smile showed a hidden devious streak that would've suited Jackman's role as well. McGregor's Jonathan was the morale heart of the film because he believed in love more than Wyatt's strong love of money. His eyes reflected a genuine interest in Williams' "S." Sadly, McGregor didn't seem to enjoy himself much until the moment the odds were in his favor. He was forced to play the straight man to Jackman's psycho. McGregor wasn't given the chance to portray his character's dark side like he did in Cassandra's Dream, but his film track record showed he will do so again sooner rather than later.
The film's weakest link was Williams' attractive stranger. She walked through the film as a one dimensional mystery. The character was purposely not given a name or much of a purpose except bewitch the men in her life. When McGregor first met her character, there were signs her character had more going on than she let on. The audience never got the opportunity as to what was going through her head because she was hardly onscreen. Deception belonged to the men instead of her supporting character anyways. Williams should choose a better script the next time she decides to play the femme fatale in a film for her own credibility.
McGregor and Jackman delivered some leading man chemistry to their performances, but they should've chosen a better film to do so. Maybe next time will be better. If not, they should fire their agents immediately.
Film Score: 2.5 stars out of 5