dir Marcel Langenegger
scr Mark Bomback
with Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Charlotte Rampling, Natasha Henstridge, Maggie Q, Paul Sparks, Frank Girardeau, Margaret Colin, Bruce Altman, Andrew Ginsburg
release US/UK 25.Apr.08
08/US 1h47
Kiss me deadly: Williams and McGregor

jackman hamilton rampling
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Deception There's a cool visual sheen to this twisty thriller that draws us in. But the lack of a proper title is only the first sign that it's barely half-baked.

While staying late in the office one night, corporate number-cruncher Jonathan (McGregor) meets suave lawyer Wyatt (Jackman), who coaxes him out of his ordered routine and into a trendy bar. When they accidentally swap mobile phones, Jonathan receives a tantalising call, "Are you free tonight?" It turns out to be an anonymous sex club, so the newly confident Jonathan dives into the lifestyle. Then he falls for a woman (Williams), which is against the rules. And he soon finds himself in a whirl of kidnappings, murder and blackmail.

We know something's up from the opening scene, and the plot takes so many turns that it ties itself in knots and must resort to badly contrived silliness to get out of it. It's also a serious problem that we couldn't care less about these people, which isn't the fault of the cast. They do their best, but the filmmakers never bother to generate chemistry on any level between them.

At least the early sections are involving, as McGregor and Jackman have fun with the nerd-jock friendship, including some witty touches from the actors and director. Williams is also good until the script reduces her to a plot device. But the main problem is that there's no attempt to show how or why these characters are drawn to each other. The story continually isolates them, which eliminates any sense of affection, camaraderie or even real concern.

This is advert-director Langenegger's first feature, and it's seriously gorgeous to look at. The camera work, editing and sound mix are first-rate, and so are the actors, including terrific roles for Rampling, Henstridge and Maggie Q as club members, plus Hamilton as the nosey cop. But the moment True Love rears its head, it clunks to a halt, because we just can't believe it. Which makes the subsequent plot-writhing both tedious and predictable. And when Langenegger strains to crank up suspense over a yawn-inducing bank transfer, we know we're in trouble. But even as the movie falls apart, at least it looks fabulous.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, violence 22.Apr.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall