Deception

2008, Movie, R, 108 mins

Review

DECEPTION
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First time feature director Marcel Langenegger 's twisty, "nothing is what it seems" thriller rests on the shoulders of Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor, actors suffiently talented to transcend the cumulative improbabilities of Mark Bombeck's screenplay.

New York City-based accountant Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) is a man alone. The transient nature of his work -- he moves from company to company, auditing corporate accounts -- militates against making friends on the job, and the long hours ensure that he's still at a desk (not his desk, mind you, just a desk) when most people are out socializing. Factor in natural reserve and insecurity, and you have a recipe for a guy doomed to watch life pass him by. Attorney Wyatt Bose (Jackman), the self-possessed product of power and privilege, is Jonathan's polar opposite: Charming, outgoing and suffused with a slightly feral confidence that makes women want him and men want to be him. Their paths cross late one night in a corporate conference room, where an unlikely friendship blossoms in a haze of marijuana smoke. Wyatt is Jonathan's entrée into The List, an exclusive sex club catering to type-A overachievers who want "intimacy without intricacy" or, by implication, the dangers inherent in buying sexual services. The List has only a few roles, but Jonathan heedlessly breaks the first and most important when he recognizes his latest anonymous hook up, "S" (Michelle Williams), as the woman for whom he's been pining since they exchanged a few words on a late-night train. They talk the night away, then go on a real date that ends up at a romantically seedy Chinatown hotel, at which point everything goes terribly wrong. S is brutally abducted, the police doubt Jonathan's story and Wyatt reveals the cold-eyed predator behind the smiling mask: He'll help Jonathan get her back, but only if Wyatt does something for him.

Jackman and McGregor are a delight to watch as, respectively, the amoral tempter and the mild-mannered victim forced to stop quavering and find his killer instinct. But the real devil is in the details that don't quite add up, the ones that have you asking "how did he…" when you should be immersed in the battle of wits between Wyatt and Jonathan; it's a b-movie lark that aspires to something more and falls short, and the less you expect in the way of believability, the more enjoyable it is. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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