Friday, April 25, 2008

"Deception" -- * 1/2

When Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor collaborate on a movie, it should be something worth getting excited about, not falling asleep to. But rather than anything resembling "entertainment," the startlingly stupid, jaw-droppingly dull "Deception" instead takes it place as this week's "88 Minutes." Both films are preposterous, shit-out generic thrillers that would comfortably fit as direct-to-DVD releases. Granted, if you've ever wanted to hear Michelle Williams whisper the phrase 'fucking and sucking,' this is the movie for you; everyone else, proceed with caution.

McGregor stars as nerdy auditor Jonathan McQuarry, whose life could use some excitement. When working late in an office, Jonathan is approached by charmingly devilish Wyatt Bose (Jackman), who almost instanty propositions him with a joint (which happens all the time, right?). Via Bose and his cell phone, mild-mannered Jonathan finds himself embroiled in a secret world of successful women-- including one played by Charlotte Rampling-- seeking anonymous sex. Jonny Boy promptly falls for one of them, who he only knows as S (Michelle Williams). After she disappears, our wise hero thinks something might be up, namely that his buddy Wyatt might not be such a nice guy after all.

However much a fan you are of these actors (I'm guilty as charged for all three leads), you should be warned these are performances entirely defined by hair and accents. Jackman's hair is gelled-up, McGregor's is matted-down. Both are aping American accents, to varying degrees of success; Jackman's as usual, is seamless, while McGregor's... well, not so hot. McGregor is a very good actor and shown himself to be a top-notch accent man before, so I imagine whatever he was doing here, he was doing intentionally, to amuse himself. In my estimation, he's doing a vicious impersonation of his "Episode II" and "Episode III" co-star Hayden Christiansen; seriously, listen for it. As for Williams, she doesn't get much to do, and mostly just looks miserable to be here (and has lost way, way too much weight).

The movie has an insanely dumb script, but rather than taking its absurdity to a fun or campy level (e.g.: "Malice"), first-time director Marcel Langenegger makes everything so overwhelmingly glossy and dull, that this thing plods along like nobody's business. I'll save the ludicrous third-act twists as surpises, but the problems start with character motivations/actions/dialogue. With Wyatt almost always having a sinister look on his face, initiating conversations like "How many women have you slept with?," and disappearing for days at a time, we start to question Jonathan's intelligence. Any rational person would realize they're being set up by a villain in a tedious third-rate thriller. And let's not even get into the repeated, ominous dangling plot-thread of a leak in Jon's apartment that you KNOW is going to factor into the finale.

The sort of movie that makes your eyes glaze over for large chunks of it, "Deception" is a lame-ass, draggy thriller that's deservedly getting dumped this weekend by the notoriously quality-bereft 20th Century Fox. Equipped with lifeless performances, and a score that seems to actually be trying to make you go to sleep, there's nothing here of value to merit a watch. I suggest you take its generic, single-word title as a preemptive warning, and instead watch the trailer again and fill in the blanks yourself.


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