"Deception" Blu-ray Review
October 21, 2008 by Zach Demeter
There have been gluts of surprise twist movies that have made it into the hands of unsuspecting individuals who are lured in with the promise of a great movie with great actors. While Deception fills that last part quite well, the first part it fails miserably at and instead is another entry into the Derailed and Shattered genre where you’re strung along for a ride only to have a rather stupid plot element conveniently pop up to turn things on its head. Thanks, but no thanks—it was fun with Derailed, but now it’s just getting silly.
Shy Jonathan McQuary (Ewan McGregor) is engrossed in his work, yet envious of those around him with night lives (and sex lives). During a late night stay at the office, a charismatic lawyer named Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman) befriends Jonathan and begins to take him around to clubs and generally just become good friends. What McQuary doesn’t realize, however, is that after a simple case of switching phones, Jonathan is pulled into Wyatt’s world of sex and scandals and soon becomes wrapped up in another world altogether, one filled with betrayal, treachery, and murder.
I almost pulled that description verbatim from the jacket because I couldn’t think of a way to describe this film without throwing in words like “dumb,” “stupid,” and “idiotic.” I don’t often blow raspberries at my TV set, but by the time this film was over the room was showered by my exasperated attempts to understand if what I was watching was actually a film or a documentary on how you shouldn’t make a motion picture. There was so very much wrong with this film that I’m hesitant to start in fear I’ll be hear all night discussing this pile of stupid (see? Already used one of those words).
While the story starts of nicely enough, filled with intriguing characters and fantastic visuals courtesy of cinematographer Dante Spinotti, it soon spirals into a vat of inexplicable plot changes and character twists that come out of left field. McGregor’s character especially is bewildering, as once Jackman’s character leaves his side and McGregor “assumes” his role, McGregor’s character does a 180 and becomes wrapped up in a world of sex and…well, sex. There isn’t much else about this film except copious amounts of sex, so I’m not sure you’re going to want to expect much else should you be subjected to this film.
As if the plot wasn’t ridiculous and wound up enough, it has to follow a set pattern of these interwoven plots to the point where you can skip ahead in your mind and figure out where it’s going to end up. A major issue with these “Ah-hah, I got you with this brilliant story twist!” films is that they all end up the same way and what should be small, incidental moments turn out to be something bigger later on. It works the first few times you see one of these films, but this is the third film of its kind I’ve seen and at this point I just couldn’t stand it anymore and gave up on it shortly into the films hour and forty-eight minute run time.
While the characters and plot weaned its way closer and closer to a destination that no one could stop it from, the dialogue in the film just hammered away at your ears until you wanted to scream. The dialogue just ran around in circles and became so convoluted that you wanted to step into the TV and slap people around so they stopped acting like a bad comedy skit placed inside of a serious sex-craved drama. If that wasn’t enough, the whole “convenient” elements of the plot are just too much to handle and before long we’re left with a series of “you expect me to believe that?” moments that wouldn’t fool a six year old. I just don’t understand how such talent is attracted to idiotic (there’s another one of those words) films like these; I assume the script sounds good, but surely while they’re making it they must just want to say “Get me the hell out of her, this is going to be a black mark on my resume!”
There is no way I would recommend this film even in the least unless you wanted to see a truly bad film or if you have a group of friends that you can lampoon the film with as you watch it. Even then there are more useful films to spend your time on and in the end this film is one to Avoid at all costs. It’s truly a shame that this will make money based on the faces on the boxes alone, but that’s the way marketing goes I suppose.
Yes, this film not only saw a DVD release but also a Blu-ray edition that is sadly quite impressive in its technical aspects. The set itself arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with an insert advertising other Fox titles as well as a note to keep your player’s firmware up-to-date. Menus are nicely done and are quite disheartening to see since I quickly realized what was lying underneath the “Play Movie” button.
The AVC encoded 2.40:1 1080p video transfer is, in a few words, quite impressive. The aforementioned cinematography makes this horrendous film look absolutely fantastic, with its moody lighting, subdued visuals and an overall rich atmosphere. Had the film been less ridiculous, the visuals alone could have sold me on the film as it really does look like a really well done and professional film, it’s just a shame it was populated with dumb (ah, the last one!) dialogue. Speaking of the dialogue we get a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio for this film which extreme overkill, since hearing McGregor and Charlotte Rampling eject from their mouths some of the most incredibly outlandish dialogue known to man in crystal clear clarity was just maddening. To the sound engineer’s credit, there is some solid channel separation during the film and there is never a moment where the audio mix hinders the sound coming from the film, though many a time I wish it would have.
So for a film this bad surely there aren’t any extras to watch? Wrong! There are so many extras listed on this menu that I wanted to cry. The first is the feature length commentary by director Marcel Langenegger who attempts to justify this piece for all its worth. Usually I feel a bit guilty railing on a film after listening to the commentary, but not after this one. Either he’s delusional or was forced to talk about the film in such a positive light for an hour and forty eight minutes or he’s just happy to be directing for the first time, but this is one commentary you can safely move past. He offers some interesting tidbits about scene setups, but other than that you won’t want to listen to this one, especially after watching the film. Actually that’s not a bad idea—watch the film with this commentary on and maybe it won’t suck so much the first time around.
Next is the making-of documentary, “Exposing the Deception: The Making of the Film” (18:17) which features cast and crew interviews and is actually kind of interesting to watch. My eyes were mostly focused on Jackman throughout the extra, however, as his facial hair indicates this was recorded around the time he was shooting scenes for the upcoming Wolverine movie, so the thoughts of that danced around in my head as the progression of the film was talked about. I am being a bit harsh on this extra, however… it is kind of interesting, but, again, you have to have the Blu-ray in your possession to watch, which isn’t worth it. Blu-ray viewers are treated to “A Passionate Process: Dissecting 'Deception’”, which is a BONUSVIEW picture-in-picture extra which showcases the making of the film with further footage of the filming process including some special effects work.
“Club Sexy” (10:00), I kid you not, is an extra devoted entirely to the underground sex clubs. I’m not entirely sure how this film got such great extra treatment, but I wish it would stop. Deleted scenes (4:55) are up next and they literally open, I kid you not, with Ewan McGregor on the toilet. I laughed out loud upon seeing this as I imagined myself in this position while watching the film, only instead of a toilet under me it was the film.
There certainly is a robust mix of extras here, all of which are presented in either 1080i/1080p, further pouring salt in the wound that a film this mediocre was able to get Blu-ray treatment this remarkable. At the very least we can commend Fox for putting as much effort into this release as they did. If it wasn’t for the film that is contained on it, this disc actually might not to be too bad. Unless you’re hard up, just go ahead and Skip this release.
Deception is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.