In this intriguing yet ultimately blundered con movie, Ewan McGregor stars as Jonathan McQuarry, a buttoned-down corporate accountant and a stiff with the ladies—so stiff, in fact, that he once called a phone-sex line and ended up offering tax advice. Working late one night in a bland conference room, Jonathan meets the exceptionally smooth Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), lawyer and stud. Work chatter leads to sharing a joint, a lunch meeting leads to mistakenly swapped cell phones, and in short order Jonathan finds himself a member of a mysterious sex club known as The List.
The idea of the driven and privileged turning to anonymous encounters for sexual fulfillment is interesting, but outside of some overwrought sex scenes, Deception clearly has other, far more standard, issues in mind—namely blackmail, kidnapping, and corporate theft. And it's here, unfortunately, that the film slowly starts to fray. When Jonathan falls hard for a woman from The List (an absolutely adorable Michelle Williams), mysteries are piled upon mysteries, crosses become double-crosses, and what once had the makings of a kinky thriller quickly descends into a fairly unimaginative scheme. For a while, director Marcel Langenegger manages to keep all the plates spinning—with a major assist from cinematographer Dante Spinotti—but as things play out, the film slips away from him. As it turns out, the true con man of Deception is the script—it conned everyone involved into trusting it could deliver on a big payoff. But by the time the climax arrives, it's so hurried, and lands with such a groan-inducing thud, that it betrays all the careful craft that came before it.