The title is not the only boring thing in Marcel Langenegger’s directional debut “Deception,” a dark thriller that ends up deceiving its audience because it promises more than it has to offer. In what is one of his more unusual performances, Ewan McGregor stars as Jonathan McQuarry, a reclusive accounting consultant who spends most of his evenings working late. Everything in his dull life changes when he meets charismatic lawyer Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), who pulls him into the world of secret sex clubs. But before he knows it, Jonathan soon walks dangerous grounds and becomes the suspect in a woman’s mysterious disappearance.

I waked into this film expecting a solid, erotic thriller with a touch of enigma to it, but as it turned out, there’s not much erotic or mysterious about “Deception.” The flick cleverly leads it audiences into believing that what they’re about to see is a tricky, murderous intrigue in which the characters hunt for clues to put the puzzle together, but the end result is nothing but an ordinary cat-and-mouse game many will figure out in no time. I won’t go into further detail about the plot because I don’t want to spoil the film, but I urge you not to expect a clever thriller filled with intricate twists and riddles. The plot is a mess, and the puzzle is too easy to solve.

“Deception” kicks off great and succeeds in building up a solid dose of suspense and mystery during the first third of the movie, but then the plot takes a drastic turn and mutates into a predictable, standard thriller lacking surprises and the necessary panache to engross eager cinemagoers. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, a foreseeable ending ruins it all. The first 30 minutes or so clearly prove this could have been an excellent thriller, but screenwriter Mark Bomback (who wrote the godawful “Godsend”) more than likely ran out of ideas, thus deciding to wrap up the film with an extremely implausible, preposterous conspiracy.

Swiss helmer Langenegger proves he’s a dab hand at directing, and I’m convinced he’s got a great career ahead of him. He keeps the film wrapped in a dark atmosphere and captures some gorgeous shots of his actors and the New York skyline. Kudos also to cinematographer Dante Spinotti, who assists Langenegger in turning a disappointing “Deception” into a visual feast. Ramin Djawadi’s omnipresent but marvelous score also adds to the quality of the film’s technical aspects. Too bad the script is such a mess.

In the role of a shy accountant thrust into a dangerous game, McGregor does quite all right, although he’s clearly capable of achieving more. Hugh Jackman is a great actor and suited well for this kind of role, but his character doesn’t live up to his abilities to deliver a solid performance. From the first moment on, Wyatt Bose comes across as a little too suspicious, and before we know it, he completely vanishes during the entire second third of the film. Michelle Williams boosts the erotic tension a bit, but she doesn’t get enough on-screen time.

“Deception” is not a total waste of time. The first two thirds of the film are watchable and will keep you entertained despite the superficial script. As a plus, McGregor and Jackman work together quite well. I appreciated the enjoyable technical aspects of the film, even though the horrible ending of the film almost made me want to ask for a reimbursement at the box office. It’s sad to watch how one third of a film can screw everything up. What a deception.

Review by Franck Tabouring