Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Cheyenne & Seed Productions
Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Runtime: 108 min
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case
Release date: September 23, 2008
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Video codec: AVC @ 34 MBPS
English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio; Spanish & French DD 5.1
English & Spanish
• Feature Commentary by Director Marcel Langenegger
• Featurette: Exposing Deception: The Making of the Film
• Added Deception: Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending
with Optional Director's Commentary
The double-cross is the staple of the crime novel, and
reached its cinematic apogee in the noir films of the
late 1940s. The gold standard modern noir film of this
type - where the plot is tighter, the sex and violence
more graphic, the warnings louder and the ironies more
exquisite, is Body Heat. As slimy is Ned Racine, it is
he we are to identify with – and when Ned is left
holding the bag, like him, we go over and over in our
minds how we got taken. We watch the movie over and
over, as he does he in his cell, searching for the tell.
The problem with Deception is that its audience has
become too smart for anything that doesn't remotely
approach Body Heat in complexity and clockwork neatness.
To director Langenegger and writer Bomback, I say: Next
time, study how Kasdan did it and follow the directions.
Of course, it doesn't help to dare us to figure out
what's about to happen to poor Ewan McGregor by such a
title, but the plot struck me as just a little too
transparent regardless. I discovered the final tell at
the same moment as Ewan, and though I drew a different,
and, I thought, equally plausible conclusion from it, my
next move would have been the same. . . which leads us
to the ending, where most everything set up in the plot,
simply falls apart before our very eyes.
What Deception has going for it is its lead actors,
particularly the exceedingly charming serialist,
embodied by Hugh Jackman. I really wouldn't want to be
on the receiving end of any plans he might have for me,
yet I could as easily feel what draws his female victims
to him again and again. McGregor is good as the
vulnerable accountant who never sees the bullet coming
until it's already sailed by. And Michelle Williams -
remember her from Brokeback Mountain? She's grown some
as an actress since Dawson's Creek – is given the
thankless task of turning the plausible into the
implausible. It isn't her fault that it doesn't work.
The first number indicates a relative level of
excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a
ten-point scale. The second number places this image
along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.
The sharp, somewhat desaturated, though varied color
palette of Deception are appealing, certainly more
interesting than the script. There are no faults worth
reporting except a kind of artifactual dust that
overlays the image. Bit rates tend to the low 30s.
Audio & Music:
The textured, but flat, audio mix helps generate a
certain degree of suspense, aided by a properly moody
The menu layout for Deception is, considering the title,
surprisingly uncomplicated, which I found something of a
relief. The chapter thumbnails do not expand, neither
are they titled, and the special features are not timed.
One of the extra features offers an alternate ending
which Langenegger, in his commentary, remarks how
unfortunate it is that it wasn't the ending used. It
certainly is different, but I thought it didn't work
either. The director's commentary is routine, covering
matters of production and character.
Deception looks and sounds pretty good on this Blu-ray
edition, but the plot is unconvincing, and the ending
(either of them) deflates what energy the film had going
for it. If you get around to seeing the movie, ask
yourself how Jackman had planned to pull off the bit in
the hotel room if McGregor had gone volunteered to go
out for ice.
September 20, 2008