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Jonathan McQuarry has a closet full of gray suits. He's an invisible man hiding behind eyeglasses and a bad haircut. As an audit manager, he goes from big firm to big firm with the sole purpose of finding financial problems before the IRS can.
Subsequently, Jonathan is not well liked, because any news he brings is usually bad. His life is made up of sitting alone for long hours in conference rooms stacked with files. A man behind glass watching life go by.
But one night, while the lonely number cruncher is burning the midnight oil, a corporate lawyer named Wyatt Bose pops his head in to say hi. They share a joint and become fast friends.
The handsome man-about-town Wyatt has looks, money, beautiful women and style—everything Jonathan longs for. When the two accidentally swap cell phones and Jonathan gets a mysterious, cryptic call intended for Wyatt, he's not sure what to do. But he decides to meet the woman caller and ends up having a passionate sexual fling.
Why does a stranger's call so quickly result in a sexual encounter? Because Wyatt is a member of an exclusive club of beautiful and successful people who take a break from their busy lives for sex without names. Without details. Without complications.
Although he lets his loneliness push him into making bad decisions, Jonathan is a nice guy who eventually puts his life and money at risk to save the woman he loves.
As Jonathan first tries to establish a relationship with that woman, who is known only as S, she warns him that they should avoid complications. He retorts, "I want all the complications you've got."
Wyatt starts a joke by saying, "God says to Jesus ..."
Jonathan eagerly dives into the Wyatt's sordid underworld, if for no other reason than to feel some excitement in his life. Sure, the novelty of the whole thing wears off and he realizes that he longs for more. He wants the love and intimacy that the club denies. But in the meantime ...
"The List" connects Jonathan with a series of different women. And while he stays dressed in underwear in the various scenes, they are all either naked, clothed in very skimpy, transparent lace lingerie or attired in bustier and garter belts. Fully nude shots of breasts and backsides are accompanied by the movements and sounds of sexual intercourse (in a variety of positions).
Wyatt sexually embraces a woman and fondles her clothed breasts. She reaches to repay the "favor." And the camera examines her face during their subsequently implied intercourse. While Jonathan is working late one night, he watches a man and woman from the custodial staff join hands and slip into the men's room for a secret tryst.
One woman explains why the purely physical interactions of The List appeal to her and others. "It's the economics of the arrangement," she says. "Intimacy without intricacies."
Female club dancers wear outfits made of see-through meshing. Women patrons in those clubs wear low-cut dresses. After playing tennis, Wyatt walks around shirtless in the locker room. A painting of a woman's breasts is reproduced on a CD cover.
A man is shot in the upper chest and falls to a nearby park bench where the blood pools around him. A female body with a cut throat is shown lying on a table in a coroner's exam room. Seconds after Jonathan finds pools of blood on the sheets in his hotel room, he's clubbed unconscious by a masked assailant. He wakes with blood on his face. Later, Wyatt punches Jonathan in the face and holds a gun on him. An apartment is booby-trapped and blows out the whole floor of a building when the explosives are triggered.
Crude or Profane Language
Ten f-words. Nearly that many s-words. God's and Jesus' names are abused (once God is linked with "d--n."). And milder profanities include "a--," "h---," "d--n" and "b--tard."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Jonathan and Wyatt smoke marijuana together in a company conference room. In the clubs, Jonathan, Wyatt and other patrons down wine and mixed drinks. S drinks a glass of scotch. Wyatt drinks a bottle of beer. Several different women smoke while they talk with Jonathan.
Other Negative Elements
When S disappears in a bloody kidnapping, Jonathan is desperate to find her. And when he finds out that he's going to need a lot of cash to get her back, he uses his access to a corporate client's bank accounts to come up with some big numbers.
S saves Jonathan's life. But she murders a man to do it.
In light of the torrent of really mindless sludge hitting the cinema lately, there's no question that Deception wants its audience members thinking "smart movie" as they walk from the theater. Charismatic leads Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman give it their all, and director Marcel Langenegger delivers a nice Hitchcockian polish and pace.
His pacing is so freshly brisk, in fact, that it's not until you've trod your way out to the parking lot that you realize just how many implausible holes this psychological thriller contains—especially in the final scenes. Jonathan stays committed to his mysterious love, for example, even after he realizes that she's a liar, a cheat ... and a murderer.
But even if you put those logic flaws aside, there's no amount of pacing or polishing that will hide the movie's inch-thick layer of erotic sexuality. Nor, for that matter, is anyone trying. For a good chunk of the movie, naked women are put on display for the sole purpose of appealing to moviegoers' baser instincts. And in the end, the whole "secret club for beautiful rich people who are too busy for anything but meaningless sex" is not only hard to believe but totally unnecessary to the story's resolution.
A smart movie? Hardly. Audiences will leave smarting, not smarter.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Ewan McGregor as Jonathan McQuarry; Hugh Jackman as Wyatt Bose; Michelle Williams as S
Marcel Langenegger ( )
20th Century Fox