Deception (1992)

Okay. I just put on Deception, streaming on Netflix. Looks and sounds fairly enticing in an early-’90s Juror/Basic Instinct/Malice sort of way. It’s got Liam Neeson and Viggo Mortensen, both of whom I’m eager to see in a movie together, and Andie MacDowell, whom I really know nothing about. I’ve seen Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral, so maybe it will be interesting to see her in a drama. The poster has moody lighting and Neeson is standing behind MacDowell in a subtly menacing way, suggesting that Deception is a cat-and-mouse game of, well, deception.

Okay! This sounds pretty exciting! Let’s get this movie started!

…….wow. Did David Lynch direct the credit sequence? That wasn’t very intense at all — oh, but I get it, I’m being deceived.

It’s gotta be uphill from here, though. Here’s Andie, playing good ol’ Southern gal Bessie Faro, and now she’s receiving a mysterious package from Veracruz that ends up having her husband’s false teeth in it. She’d know those false teeth anywhere! Johnny Faro, the husband played by Viggo Mortensen, must be dead. He’s been missing for a long time, but the pain doesn’t hurt Bessie any less. She fondly recalls Johnny flying his plane, giving Bessie a ruby ring, calling her “Ruby Cairo”. These flashbacks are definitely going to be important later, don’t you think? It’s Deception, after all. The title is begging us to figure out what that deception is before poor Bessie does. Johnny’s “dead” in a movie called Deception, so at this point I’m sure Johnny is “alive”. You?

Okay. Now Bessie is leaving her kids with the Mexican maid after a trip to the Korean grocery (????) to go abroad to discover what really happened to Johnny. Strap yourself in, fellow viewer! The deceiving begins here. Almost. Probably right after this scene of Bessie at the bank, withdrawing Johnny’s money using the secret code he planted on the backs of the baseball cards hidden in his secret desk in his secret office in Veracruz (????) because apparently that’s going to play into the deception somehow. And now she’s in Berlin and Switzerland and God Knows Where Else withdrawing stacks of money with no questions asked.

Okay, shit, I just woke up. I must have nodded off during the conversation with Bessie’s lawyer friend from back home, which I’m sure you realize makes zero sense because Bessie never went back home mid-globetrotting and yet is shown in her hometown, like she just didn’t have time to see her kids or something. And speaking of which: the editing is fairly shoddy for a Hollywood movie, no? These multiple scenes where Bessie is talking to herself (????) seem patched together, and most of the time the voice very obviously doesn’t match the mouth. Maybe that’s the deception, or maybe it’s a f*cking homage to that scene in Naked Lunch where their words don’t match their mouths. That’s probably it. Hopefully the deception didn’t come and go while I was asleep.

And where the hell is Liam Neeson? The dude’s on the poster. We’re now almost forty-five minutes into this eighty-five minute film and MacDowell has had about seven conversations with herself. Interestingly, she seems to have absolutely no chemistry with herself.

Hey, there’s Viggo Mortensen! Deception, baby. That can’t be the only deceptive quality of this film, though. Right? Isn’t he secretly Liam Neeson in a mask, or didn’t Bessie secretly engineer this from the start, or something? No? He’s just not dead? Okay, so Johnny Faro faked his death in order to…do…something…without his wife. He stole some money — is that what he just said? — and so he needed to go on the run. So, yeah, technically we have truth in advertising here, I guess.

Now the editing seems to be really, really bad. Embarrassingly so. Viggo is sitting in one shot, then standing in purple light that was not there a millisecond ago, then standing in a different place ten feet closer in the next shot. Now a pale female hand that is most definitely not the Hand of Viggo (but is clearly supposed to be) is reaching for a gun, and now Viggo is hunting Andie MacDowell because…he’s…mad…or something…and Liam Neeson is probably going to come out of nowhere for the big reveal, yeah? Now Viggo is saying “You’re the one that came all this fucking way! For what?” and for the first time I’m nodding my head and saying “Exactly!

Now Johnny’s dead and there’s a party at Bessie’s house and the movie’s over. I’m just gonna type in Deception into IMDb for a minute to see who I should blame for this piece of…wait, where’s Deception? I mean, there are plenty of Deceptions here. There’s one from 1946, one from 2003, a Hugh Jackman one from 2008, there’s a TV series from 2013, there’s Inception, and hell, it looks like Reindeer Games even used to be called Deception. But where’s this particular Deception? Oh, here it is. It’s really called Ruby Cairo. The Wikipedia page offers no further insight as to why there’s a blatant mix-up and no actual official title, although it does state that Andie MacDowell said the director was stoned for the whole shoot. Ah, how we deceive ourselves.

I think the aforementioned Malice is the best comparison for this piece of crap movie, don’t you? They’re both predicated on a twist of some kind, actually dependent on a twist of some kind to justify existing in the first place, and yet they refuse to twist or turn or even flinch from the unending flatness. Deception is far worse for the horrid editing and laughable acting and directionless directing and absentee writing. That David Lynch credit sequence ended up being the best part. But, I mean, that’s just my opinion. What did you think? Yeah? Good, good. You feel the same way. Agreeing otherwise would be the only true deception here.

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