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on April 25, 2008
"Deception" is to the thriller genre what a pulp detective novel is to literature: it's a guilty pleasure that satisfies, even though something better is always an option. I never believed that this story was in any way, shape, or form possible, but I certainly had fun watching it. As the title suggests, many of the characters are intentionally giving off the wrong impression, and by the time we discover their true natures, something new is revealed. This isn't to say that the film is overloaded with plot twists; the mystery eventually comes to an end with little confusion, and that's good for anyone who actually wants to follow along with the details. I will say that I was concerned entering the theater, because let's face it--a title like "Deception" makes one wonder just how far it will go to fool the audience.

We're immediately introduced to Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor), a timid accountant for some unnamed firm in New York City. While working late, he meets Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), an extremely charismatic attorney. He instantaneously gets on McQuarry's good side, first by sharing a joint with him, second by involving him in activities he would never be a part of. They become friends, but it's obvious that something sinister is lurking behind Bose's devilish smile. McQuarry begins to discover this when the two accidentally switch cell phones during a lunch meeting--while Bose is supposedly on a London business trip, McQuarry keeps getting phone calls from women who ask if he's available, believing he's Bose. Feeling emboldened, McQuarry decides to take one of the women up on her offer and meet at a hotel.

And that's when he discovers that Bose is part of a sex club that caters to people interested in one-night stands. McQuarry eventually meets a Wall Street belle (Charlotte Rampling) who states the two basic rules: no rough stuff, and no names. In this seemingly harmless world of casual sex, McQuarry eventually meets a woman known only as S (Michelle Williams). Both are initially uncomfortable because they realize they had met before in a subway station. To alleviate the tension, they break the rules and actually strike up long-winded conversations. They also go on dinner dates from time to time. What they don't do is share their real names. However, McQuarry seems to think that a romance is developing, so it seems likely that all such missing pieces will eventually fall into place.

Then again, maybe they won't. When both stay in a Chinatown hotel, McQuarry returns to his room only to be knocked unconscious by a masked assailant, just as he notices that the bed sheets are stained with blood. He comes to hours later--not only are the bed sheets perfectly clean, S is nowhere to be found. It would seem that McQuarry has unknowingly been drawn into something much bigger than he thought, and what's worse, it has everything to do with Wyatt Bose. I won't reveal who he really is, what he plans to do, why he wants to do it, how he involves McQuarry, and what has happened to S, but rest assured that it's all about as sinister as you expect it to be, and no more. At a certain point, McQuarry accuses Bose of being a liar: "Those weren't lies," Bose says maliciously. "That was foreplay." I can't quote the rest of that line for censorship reasons, but believe me when I say that the next bit of dialogue was oddly satisfying.

The same can be said for the movie as a whole, even if the story is less believable than Michelle William's bleach blonde hair. I found myself caught up in the suspense, the way it slowly built itself before going right to light speed at the start of the third act. McQuarry is much more resourceful at that point, which is expected not only because his life is in jeopardy, but also because he begins the film as a mousy nobody. Then again, I'm not entirely sure he changes by the end of the movie--his love for S is motivating him more than anything else, which is odd considering he little he knows about her, least of all her name. Following her so blindly just doesn't seem logical. But I don't think logic is what the filmmakers were aiming for. "Deception" is a good old-fashioned mystery, adhering strictly to a formula of pure entertainment; chances are you'll find the plot twists more interesting than the coherence of the story.

The same can be said for the performances, which are only as good as this film allows them to be. Jackman isn't much of a surprise here, since his role doesn't call for anything grander than being a villain. McGregor, on the other hand, reveals a refreshing new side to his personality. Being small and meek is a lot harder to pull off than being the tough guy--you need to be shy and vulnerable while making it look like you're desperate to prove something. I sensed that from his character and appreciated it, despite the fact that the story didn't always support it. But since I didn't expect anything more or less than what was delivered, I guess it's okay. I got my money's worth from "Deception," and you will too as long as you're able to suspend disbelief and go with the flow. It's like being a client in an underground sex club--everyone can go home happy as long as no questions are asked.
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Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

1. Geeky accountant meets smooth-talking lawyer
2. Geek spots attractive blonde on train
3. Audience suffers stereotype overload
4. Second-hand designer suit and cell phone switcheroo leads to geek getting a life
5. ... and maybe losing his

Great performances by Ewan McGregor (geeky accountant), Hugh Jackman (smooth-talking lawyer), Charlotte Rampling (smoldering seductress) and Michelle Williams (attractive blonde) are almost eclipsed by an unrealistic screenplay involving the intertwining of two different storylines into a forgettable psychological drama, that starts well, but then is frittered away to absolutely nothing much.

You already know pretty much what's going on just by reading the title, so I'll just add that it involves mutually agreeable short term relationships, financial finagling and ruthless rub-outs. There are many twists, and a couple of them (or at least one in particular) are quite good.

Rent it for the acting, but it probably won't initiate a purchase decision.

Amanda Richards, October 4, 2008
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on May 22, 2008
What made the movie very good viewing are the interesting character studies and the excellent portrayals by the two lead actors. Jonathan leads a rather lonely life as a CPA who does not even develop any ties with the people on whose work he passes judgment on. When Wyatt comes into his life and opens a new and exciting world beyond the glass towers of corporate Manhattan, he is wide-eyed and smiling to himself with his discovery. Wyatt is all smooth-talking and self-assured, professionally and socially, while pressing a hidden agenda. What I liked most about the movie is the phase when these two men, seemingly from two different worlds, interact and a fraternal bond seemed to have developed. As if they have suddenly become the best of friends and share intimate secrets.

The movie traces how this initial bond becomes a vehicle for committing a crime ( stealing millions from questionable sources and taking advantage of how these transactions can pass through the international payment systems without being caught immediately) and how the seemingly good friend unravels his intentions to coerce the cooperation of the mousy accountant. The twist is how the accountant foils the villain's intention, a solution made in accountant heaven ( with their dogma of "check and balance"!).

The parade of attractive women adds some zest to the story but I think it is the interaction of the two characters which is the essence of the story.

Ewan McGregor is excellent as the mousy accountant and leads one to sympathize with his character easily. Hugh Jackman, in a departure from his usual heroic roles, is the antagonist in this story and he delivers the performance in a refreshing manner. The change from his suave and likable Wyatt to someone who forcefully intimidates his friend towards committing the crime is chilling. Hugh Jackman proves further how his acting range has become so much more varied, following his acting revelations in The Prestige and The Fountain.

I would like to see both actors in another future team-up!
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on September 29, 2008
That's about how exciting this movie was. Don't blame the actors though, they tried. In the end, Deception was the proverbial "silk purse on a sow's ear"--the silk purse being the actors, the cinematography--the technical infrastructure of the film; the sow's ear being the script, which reminded me of so many other movies that I'd seen and also didn't like.

The storyline involves an isolated timid accountant (Ewen McGregor)and his chance--cliche'd meeting with a cool, sophisticated, and charismatic corporate lawyer (Hugh Jackman)who introduces McGregor's shy character to a world of corporate hi-rise whore-houses. After sexing a thousand call-girls in just about every yoga position imaginable, McGregor's numbed "sexually awakened" character comes full-circle--being a stud isn't all that he thought it would be. Involuntarily, he falls for one of his many call-girls, a limp, beautiful blonde who happens to be in cahoots with Jackman's character to blackmail McGregor into moving millions into an offshore banking account.

See, I told you that you'd seen this film before. Throughout Deception--fitting title--I anticipated that big moment--that surprise--that would ease the slow pregnant feeling growing from my stomach into the seat of my pants. When the end-credits scrolled down the screen I realized that I'd just wasted two hours of my life--two hours that I'll never see again--on a bad movie. If you like good cinematography, professional--and dry-- acting, and sex see deception. If you want to see a decent movie, save your money and your time.
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VINE VOICEon February 8, 2009
You know the drill. Don't trust strangers. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true). There's no such thing as love at first sight. Money rules. Love conquers all.

Mix all of these maxims together and you get this film. Add first-rate acting by the entire cast and you get solid entertainment.

Ewan McGregor plays Jonathan McQuarry, a painfully shy auditor who works major corporate accounts. Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman) meets the super lonely auditor and quickly becomes his best (only?) friend. Bose gives McQuarry access to a sex club that seems to be, well, too good to be true. Michelle Williams is the enigmatic "S" who captures the shy man's heart. Everything goes just smashingly until the other shoe drops. And, of course, other shoes always drop.

I don't want to give anything away. The suspense starts early on and continues until the final frame. Others have attacked this film for being too cliched or formulaic. There's something to this criticism, but I found the acting and direction more than powerful enough to earn five stars.
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on March 4, 2011
I simply copied this from the product description because I could not think of anything better to write. This tells it all. "An accountant is introduced to a mysterious, sex-dating club known as The List by his lawyer friend. He becomes enthralled in this new lifestyle, but he soon becomes the prime suspect in a woman's disappearance and a multimillion-dollar heist."
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on July 31, 2008
I enjoyed this thriller with its neo-noir look ( very evocative of Manhattan) and its excellent casting and performances. The plot is credible, even if some of the twists are probably a little too easy to project. But the buildup is tension-filled and the resolution is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the profession of the main protagonist ( certainly a made-in-accountant-heaven solution!). The most memorable scenes are the bonding moments between two unlikely friends in a world where it could be very lonely if you didn't belong! In this case, the club was a sex club, populated by successful New York financial community professionals looking for "intimacy without the intricacy" ( in the words of the character portrayed by Charlotte Rampling, in a cameo).

I particularly liked the excellent performances. There is the very good performance from Ewan McGregor as the low-key, fun-starved auditor who plods along from one audit job to another. He embues his characterization with the right timidity and somewhat awed regard for his new-found friend and social mentor. Hugh Jackman is equally outstanding in a dramatic shift from his usual leading-man roles, this time as a villain with a criminal agenda. He is suave, sophisticated, and self-assured but when he forces the timid Jonathan to pursue a major international fraud, he is chilling! Very credible portrayal from Jackman, who is increasingly taking on more and more varied screen roles ( his 1-2 acting punch in The Prestige and The Fountain still stuns). Perhaps it is the theatre background of both Jackman and McGregor which allows them to switch to different character roles in the movies with ease and credibility. Michelle Williams projects the right amount of vulnerability in a role that is key to the plot.

Go get the DVD, if you missed the movie in the cinema!
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on July 2, 2011
Hi...it seems this movie is really overall not very well liked....everyone claiming the story was too predictable! Think about it, aren't most stories the same plot rehashed in a different way? I, for one, was not able to see where the movie was taking me (even if I suspected Jackman's character early on)...there are several factors of this movie that help it rise way above the typical thriller---Jackman's performance (I thought the entire cast was great), the photography (a nice blend of film and digital), unique framing of every scene, moments of incredible tension, and some nice plot twists. See the "alternate ending" on the special features..I actually thought it was an even better way to end the movie! I just finished watching this movie for the 2nd time and caught a few interesting things I missed the first time out. What can I say...I love this movie...
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on April 13, 2013
This movie is probably made for someone fascinated by the world of business and finance without actually being employed in the industry. Otherwise, the ease at which accounts are opened and money transferred would pose problem. There are a few less than believable twists in the overall plot, but the movie is light, easy to follow and entertaining.
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VINE VOICEon August 11, 2009
When quick friendship is struck between dorky accountant Jonathan McQuarry (McGregor) and suave, playboy lawyer Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), the relationship of leader and led, alpha and beta male, is quickly established. It's Spike the Bulldog and Chester the Terrier, "Hey Spike, what do you want to do today!?" After some reefer, some tennis, and a bit of friendly banter, Wyatt not only gets Jonathan to admit to only having bedded four women in his lifetime, but also that rich women who are busy and horny are easy for simply those two reasons. When a lunch date produces a phone mix up, things get interesting.

If the secret club of Eyes Wide Shut had any appeal, it's rivaled by "The List" in Deception. Imagine if business aristocracy found Heidi Fleiss' little black book, erased the names, and then passed around the numbers to other like-mindedly promiscuous and prosperous. It sounds great until the immortal words of The Notorious B.I.G. are remembered, Mo Money Mo Problems. Too true, player, too true. When it comes to the expensive games the wealthy play, the numbers don't quite add up for Jonathan.

The reality of this movie is the same as actual reality: Most men probably want Hugh Jackman's life. Hell, most want his name alone. When said phonetically, it sounds like Huge Ackman, which is at the very least metaphorical.

Along with an interesting supporting performance from Michelle Williams, the combination of McGregor and Jackman really carry the film and distract enough from the plot-holes. McGregor absolutely nails the nerd role, and Jackman is completely shocking and sinister as antagonist.

The story and buildup of this movie are original enough to be somewhat enjoyable. The primary disappointment of the film is the obvious "surprise" ending. The twist is not quite the paint-by-the-numbers approach of the Ocean's Eleven series, but the double-double-cross is predictable enough to stretch beyond foreshadowing; it's FOURshadowed.

A rental for average film buffs, a must purchase for the optimistic sex addict.
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