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Case Number 04956

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Deception

Lionsgate // 1993 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 6th, 2004

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson says don't be fooled.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Bette Davis Collection, Volume Three (published April 14th, 2008), Deception (published September 23rd, 2008), and Deception (Blu-Ray) (published September 24th, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

Deception. Obsession. Seduction. Destruction. It's all part of the truth.

Opening Statement

That's a hefty batch of buzzwords Lions Gate splashed on the cover of this movie. Does the feature live up to those descriptions, or was the tagline writer particularly bored that day?

Facts of the Case

Bessie Faro (Andie MacDowell, Sex, Lies, and Videotape) finds her world quickly falling apart when she learns of her hotshot husband's sudden, fiery death. John Faro (Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) had always been a thrill-seeker pretty boy of a spouse, but his devil-may-not-give-a-crap attitude apparently betrayed him when he crashed his airplane into a field. Bessie receives her husband's charred teeth for dental verification and, dismayed, attends the funeral.

But she cannot grieve for long. She has a big family and a house to care for, and the bills are flooding in. She knew her husband had money, and the challenge now is to pinpoint exactly where he stashed it. A visit to his workshop in Mexico reveals a puzzling pack of baseball cards with odd notations on them.

Bessie realizes these cards are a code, and she soon deciphers the enigmatic scribblings: bank locations, account numbers, and the faux account holder's names. Bam! she' s on a worldwide adventure of banking fun!

The middle third of the movie consumes itself with Bessie's bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank-to-bank travels.

Along the way she meets Dr. Fergus Lamb (Liam Neeson, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), who, besides being the bearer of a ridiculous name, coordinates a charitable organization called Feed the World. The two make some googly eyes at each other and then separate for a while, only to be reunited when the mystery of Bessie's husband's death deepens: someone other than her is withdrawing money, and supporting some illegal goings-on.

Bessie must now shirk her responsibilities as a parent and homeowner and finally put to rest the secret of her flame-broiled former hubby.

The Evidence

The tagline says: "Deception. Obsession. Seduction. Destruction." Do these words aptly sum up the movie? Let's look at them, one by one.

Deception
Definition: "the act of deceiving." E.g.,I would rather staple my tongue to the inside of my cheek than watch Deception again.
Applicability: This is certainly the most apt word to describe the movie. First, it is rife with deception. All over the place characters are getting the crap deceived out of them—MacDowell's Bessie and Neeson's Richard win the prize for "Most Likely to be Snookered." And, lastly, the audience is deceived as well. With a cast headlined by such bigwigs as Andie MacDowell, Liam Neeson, and Viggo Mortensen (who in 1993 was not as familiar as he is now, post-Shards-of-Narsil), hapless viewers may get roped into thinking this is a noteworthy thriller.

Obsession
Definition: "a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling." E.g., Because of Randy's obsession with the movie "Deception," he was deemed insane with extreme masochistic tendencies.
Applicability: Highly applicable. The obsession that consumes Bessie is simply ludicrous. She's scraped together a small fortune that belonged to her deceased husband, but she can't shake her intense curiosity to reveal the mystery behind his death, though she isn't threatened in the least.

Seduction
Definition: "something that attracts or charms." E.g., I gave into the seduction of stuffing the couch pillows over my head while watching the movie "Deception."
Applicability: Um, no. Nobody gets seduced. Nobody even hugs.

Destruction
Definition: "the state or fact of being destroyed." E.g., Witness the destruction of logic, as displayed in "Deception!"
Applicability: When I think destruction, Godzilla and Halle Berry in an SUV spring to mind. Not the meandering narrative that is Deception.

You know I'm getting sick and tired of a studio listing its special features when it's obvious that there are none. Consider Deception:

Special Features
• Full Screen version
• 2.0 Dolby Stereo Surround
• Digitally Mastered

Wow! This must be a special edition!

Technically, everything is lackluster. A grainy, pixelated transfer supported by a front-loaded stereo mix, which, processed through Pro Logic II, comes out solely from the center channel.

Closing Statement

Deception: serviceably mediocre at best, dull and pointless at worst. Actually, it's probably somewhere in the middle.

The Verdict

Guilty for a heartless treatment of a blah movie. There must be something better out there to package and release Lions Gate! (Ahem, Gymkata?).

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Scales of Justice

Video: 75
Audio: 70
Extras: 0
Acting: 85
Story: 70
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Drama
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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