Just as surely as sadsack auditor Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) has a man-crush on reptilian Wall Street winner Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), so first-time director Marcel Langenegger has a hard-on for David Fincher. Combining the Brad’n’Ed bro-mance of Fight Club with the basic template of The Game, Deception sees Bose induct his quarry in a New York sex sect where disaffected execs arrange anonymous bunk-ups by phone. With rules such as “no rough stuff, no business talk and no names”, it may as well be called Fornication Club. Presumably shirts and shoes are optional.
After doing the no-pants-dance with a number of Amazonian office girls (including Charlotte Rampling and Natasha Henstridge), a sequence that brings to mind that advert where rutting teens have STDs scrawled, rather handily, on their keks, McQuarry falls for the mysterious S (Michelle Williams). It’s a touching tale: boy meets girl in an illicit sex ring, they kiss in the Chinatown snow, he buys her a toy duck… but isn’t there the slightest possibility it’s all too good to be true?
Yep. Not only does old Bose chuckle like Wacky Races’ Mutley and have the fakest-sounding name since Guy Incognito, he’s so clearly on the make that he all but stretches out his fingers and purrs “Eeeeeeexcellent”. Staring stupefied at all the purdy people, McQuarry hardly notices. He may as well have “Deceive me” stamped beneath his side parting.
As the plot’s plausibility gets stretched and twanged like so much knicker elastic, Deception becomes dumber and duller by the second. Even the heist sequence Langenegger eventuall rolls out barely makes the pulse flutter.
Ultimately the film’s generic title and dodgy provenance (from the writer and, er, executive producer of Die Hard 4.0) speak volumes about its general quality. It’s as bland, shiny and anonymous as the Scandinavian furniture coveted by Fight Club’s narrator and filling almost every frame here. Only difference is, you’ll find more surprises down the back of the sofa.