Sometimes the gods of cinema point and laugh at you. Case in point: I was home sick and did I watch something worthy? Revisit Seven Samurai perhaps, or finally get around to watching The Godfather? Nope. I watched Deception, and only because it starred two of my favorite imaginary boyfriends: Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor. I have no one to blame but myself, letting eye candy direct my viewing choices, and Deception is a tepid, thrill-less thriller with several twists but no surprises, and not even the considerable charms of Mr. Jackman and Mr. McGregor can do much to alleviate the tedium.
Hired-gun accountant Jonathan (Ewan McGregor, hit with the nerdy stick) spends his days number crunching and watching life go by (lots of unsubtle scenes of him in glass-walled conference rooms bring the point home). One night, dashing corporate lawyer Wyatt (Hugh Jackman, who can file my legal briefs any day) stops by, chats with the lonely accountant, shares a joint with him, and invites him to a tennis game the next day, and later in the week, to an evening at a strip club. Not long after Jonathan confesses that he doesn’t get out much and hasn’t been with very many women, he and Wyatt accidentally swap phones. Jonathan answers a call on Wyatt’s phone and soon finds that he (in place of Wyatt) is a member of a sex club. Callers say, “Are you free tonight?” and liaisons are arranged, with little conversation between the parties and no names exchanged. This delights Jonathan for a while (as well it should – one of his dates is the still-gorgeous Charlotte Rampling) but things change when one of the club members turns out to be a girl who caught his fancy earlier on a subway platform (Michelle Williams).
Soon Jonathan and the girl (known only as “S”) start seeing each other outside of the sex club’s restrictions, and if you can’t discern that there’s more to “S” than meets the eye, or that Wyatt’s friendship may not be as benevolent as it seems, you’ve never seen a movie or read a book before (heck, you haven’t even paid attention to the movie’s title).
Deception isn’t so much a bad movie as it is relentlessly mediocre. The only distinctive things about it are its absurdly overqualified cast, who all do a fine if unremarkable job. Jackman is all charm, even when his evil side is revealed, so that it’s clear how he’s been able to use his looks and charm to his advantage for so long. McGregor does a good job as the buttoned-down nerd (though he’s done no favors by the film’s desaturated cinematography, which makes him look like he escaped the TB ward), a man who longs for excitement in life but can’t take the steps toward it. Williams is fine but lacks the charisma to be the woman-of-mystery the script wants her to be. And it’s a delight to see Charlotte Rampling on the screen.
Everything else about the movie just sits there. It takes up time and gave everyone involved a paycheck, and that’s about it. However, there are extras aplenty on the disc, including a director commentary, deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), featurettes, and more – a surprising amount of bonuses for a movie that seems to have escaped a direct-to-DVD release by the skin of its teeth.