There are passion projects, and then there are movies like Deception, which seems conjured up like a paperback in the airport bookstore, existing only as company to the lonely travelers in business class. That's fitting, too, because the film's hero, played by Ewan McGregor, is one of those anonymous seat-fillers, a pasty-faced accountant who drifts from one corporate conference room to another, filing a dreaded audit. A guaranteed pariah simply by virtue of his occupation, he might be an interesting guy to know, but Deception doesn't waste much time with characterization before putting him through the generic thriller paces. In essence, he comes off as slightly more refined (i.e. no pocket protector) than Robert Carradine in Revenge Of The Nerds; he's easy pickings for any slickster willing to give him the time of day.


In Deception, Hugh Jackman plays that slickster, a fatuous corporate lawyer who takes a liking to McGregor and introduces him to the world of velvet-roped nightclubs, beautiful women, and $4,000 suits. When Jackman goes away to London on business, he accidentally swaps cell phones with McGregor, a mix-up that seemingly works to the nerdier man's benefit. McGregor begins receiving calls from sultry-sounding women asking, "Are you free tonight?", and when he follows up on one of them, he's treated to an evening of anonymous sex. Soon enough, he's indoctrinated into an exclusive sex club catering to randy executives who don't have the time for a committed relationship. Trouble is, he breaks the rules by getting emotionally involved with one of them.

The dynamic between Jackman and McGregor bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Aaron Eckhart and Matt Malloy from In The Company Of Men: the cool, suave, experienced philosopher of excess and his weaker, more earnest pupil. The difference is subtext: In The Company Of Men is an almost anthropological look at corporate culture, and the ruthless power grabs within its boardrooms and bedrooms. Deception is about, well, nothing. A scene with the still-transfixing Charlotte Rampling as one of the sex club's longtime denizens suggests what might have been had the film not strapped itself to a series of none-too-surprising twists and turns. From the nondescript title on down, Deception is a movie made to be forgotten.