Deception [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (28th October 2008).
The Film

With a title like 'Deception', anybody familiar with thrillers of the sort will be able to guess two very important plot points in the first 20 minutes. This is probably the movie's biggest weakness, as you're ahead of the characters. You're not just ahead by a few minutes, but by an hour or more. You keep waiting for the characters to catch up, and because you know the twists, you can easily work your way back, guessing with decent accuracy what will happen on screen.

Twisty movies are not all that bad, but David Mamet did this type of story better in both 'House of Games' and 'The Spanish Prisoner'. 'Deception' is good for people who don't know the genre too much because knowing the territory is definitely a disadvantage.

The movie concerns a shy, bashful accountant, Jonathan (Ewan McGregor), who is befriended by outgoing, high-powered lawyer Wyatt (Hugh Jackman). Wyatt immediately connects to Jonathan and shows him the high life, before doing something to him that he doesn't expect. What follows is nothing special if you've guessed one of these the things. Meanwhile, Jonathan meets a cute, sexy girl, whose name he doesn't know (Michelle Williams).

With the three actors, the performances are very good. Michelle Williams only has to look cute as a button, which, for her, isn't all the difficult. She has her subtle moments and doesn't disappoint with the range she shows. Hugh Jackman plays the rich playboy, which he does very well. Ewan McGregor has the hardest role and he gives a fine performance, showing all the nuances that his character feels. Some of his moments are a bit too exaggerated for my tastes but overall I see no real problems.

The cinematography and music are also very nice. Snowy urban streets are at times very picturesque and the digital video footage gives the movie some very good atmosphere. Director of photography Dante Spinotti does a great job making this movie looks very dark, but very appropriate. The music also has slick and longing undercurrents, boosting the atmosphere wanted by director Marcel Langenegger.

As I've mentioned, the main problem with the movie is its plot and use of twists. Had its storytelling style been a bit more straightforward, while keeping the same cinematography, it would have been better, because the future could not have been guessed. As it is, though all the elements of the movie are very good, the plot drags everything down, given it's nothing new and somewhat bland, though it tries very hard to be surprising. I suppose deception can be anywhere.

Video

2.40:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. Some of the movie was shot on film, the rest on digital. The daytime scenes were shot on film and they look very nice and sharp. The colours are bright and slightly on the colder, end of the colour wheel. They, however, look very nice, and as the director intended. The night and dark scenes were done with high-definition cameras, and they look very sleek. They give the movie a tremendously gritty atmosphere that mirrors the tone of the movie very well. The blacks are good enough and the contrast is the same, but that's the intended look, and it looks great. There is also no hint of excessive DNR, no haloing and no artifacting of any kind. Its a very nice-looking movie.

Audio

The main audio track is the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, but there are also two alternate Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, in French and Spanish. The lossless track gives the viewers a very favourable impression of the movie. The quiet atmosphere comes through very well, and the score seeps through the speakers very nicely. The dialogue is always clear and audible, and the volume levels are very nicely done. The subwoofer even gets in a few moments when lower-register instruments are playing. It's an all-around good track.
English, Spanish

Extras

Whether the movie is your cup of tea or not, Fox has been pretty nice giving it some decent extras. First up is an audio commentary by director Marcel Langenegger. Mr. Langenegger does a nice job with this audio commentary. He talks about the cinematography and points out what's digital and what's film. He also spends a lot of time with the characters and how they feel. He also gives out the various instructions he gave the actors to get the reactions he wanted. He talks about the locations and the intentions of various scenes. He talks a lot, and the track has few dead spots. He ends up narrating at times, which drags the track down, but for the most part it's a decent commentary.

A couple of featurettes are next. Exposing 'Deception': The Making of the Film (18:18) is a pretty standard making-of featurette. The director, producer and actors give brief accounts of the genesis of the project, their association with the project and other team members of the project. They also talk about director of photography, which is pretty nice. There's a little behind the scenes footage, and a lot of talking heads. There's some fluff, of course, and general information, but not much detail. Club Sexy (10:14) is next. The featurette starts with some talk of sex clubs and their existence in New York and other cities. Then this shifts to the various women Jonathan meets and the filming schedule they had with Ewan McGregor. This is a bit nice, but not much more than a way to introduce the women in the film.

dded Deception: Deleted Scenes are next. There are three scenes 'Men's Room' (1:20), 'Chinatown' (0:55) and 'Alternate Ending' (3:06) and none of them really add anything to the movie, though the alternate ending is by far the director's preferred ending. It also fits in better to the tone and feel of the movie. The other two scenes don't give the correct impression to the viewers. The director also has a commentary in which he talks about why the scenes were cut, and quietly despises the theatrical cut's ending.

Some Fox on Blu-ray trailers are here, 'What Happens in Vegas...' (2:26) and 'Street Kings' (1:21). Some Start-up Trailers are also on the disc, a digital copy ad (1:03), 'Shutter' (1:40), 'Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia' (0:48).

A high-definition exclusive extra is also here. Passionate Process: Dissecting 'Deception' is a standard picture-in-picture commentary. For those without a Bonus-View player, the PIP videos can be viewed separately. The featurette bits, interviews and script pages show you some very good information, though the actor interviews are taken from the featurettes from this disc and some of the director comments are taken from his solo audio commentary. There are some nice lengths between videos at times, which is slightly disappointing, but the behind the scenes footage, as always, is pretty nice.

Overall

The Film: C Video: A- Audio: B+ Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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