Deception, the newly-released suspense thriller starring the talented Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Prestige) and Ewan McGregor (The Island) opened up this past weekend to dismal numbers, coming in 10th place amidst stiffer competition. I thought it was an intriguing movie and I enjoyed it, despite its disappointing finish.
McGregor stars as Jonathan McQuarry, a timid Manhattan accountant who lives a pretty lame existence. While auditing a law firm late one night he meets one of the firm’s partners, Wyatt Bose, both brash and confident. Guys like Wyatt are usually pricks, but for some reason he takes a liking to the awkward Jonathan, with whom he would seemingly have very little in common. They even fire up a doobie right there in the building, and this little bonding experience foreshadows the naughty lifestyle Jonathan will be experiencing now that Wyatt has entered his world. When the two men mistakenly grab each other’s cell phones, the trouble begins. When Jonathan receives a call (on Wyatt’s phone) asking if he’s “free tonight,” he doesn’t exactly go out of his way to tell the female caller that she has the wrong number. He meets the mystery caller in a posh hotel lobby, a beautiful blonde that looks like just the type of woman that would be phoning Wyatt. They go up to a room and Jonathan feebly confesses that he’s not the man she thinks he is. She asks if he’s the guy she spoke to earlier, and when he says yes the protest basically stops right there. This beautiful stranger makes love to Jonathan, and thus he embarks on a journey of late night, anonymous frolics with different women, each foray precipitated by a phone call asking “are you free tonight?” Now, of course these calls are intended for Wyatt, and Jonathan tells Wyatt about them. Wyatt encourages him to lose his inhibitions and enjoy himself, which he does. Things go awry (as they always do), but I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice to say that Wyatt isn’t the friend Jonathan assumed he was. The two end up engaging in a battle of wits with a mysterious femme fatale (Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain) acting as centerpiece.
Whew, I’ve said a mouthful, more than I intended. Deception was stylish and sexy to watch, but was noticeably flawed, particularly towards the end where a good twist was followed by events that defied logic. There was something about this movie that I liked though. Hugh Jackman was perfect as a handsome narcissist who preys on the weak, and McGregor was believable as the straight arrow who gets in over his head. I don’t think the movie’s eye-rolling implausibilities detracted from the overall noir, sleek feel of the film. It wasn’t as smart or provocative as Eyes Wide Shut, but the vibe was similar and I liked it.