Genre:Action, Thriller
Starring:Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, Michelle Williams, Maggie Q,
Natasha Henstridge, Rachael Taylor

Written By:Mark Bomback

Director:Marcel Langenegger



In the past several months, magazine covers, newspaper headlines, and radio talk shows have once again brought the scandalous pairing of sex and power to the forefront of national attention. As fellow HJ writer Matthew Kinne explores in his recent HJ Back Page article “Politicians Gone Wild,” the problem of sexual sin among those in power is far from a new phenomenon. Its temptation is one that has been around forever. And for both those who have power and those who seek it, sex has unfortunately become a very real currency of its trade.

For the philandering governor, escorts for hire are merely a phone call away. For the sexually unsatisfied airport traveler, a quick rendezvous is just a matter of flashing the right hand (or foot) signals. And as the big screen’s newest sexual thriller Deception reveals, for the overworked New York City power player, finding others ready to share a few hours of “intimacy without intricacy” is just a matter of getting on “The List.” But although Deception does seem to spring right from recent headlines, the interesting thing about the movie is that instead of being a lesson about the consequences of sexual sin among those in power, it is much more a look at the equally dangerous reality of sexual temptation for those who feel they have no power at all.

deception003.jpg (163 K)Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) may be a well-paid corporate auditor, but when it comes to life, he is the first to admit he doesn’t have one. When we first meet him, Jonathan is working late into the night in a bare conference room. As he watches the cleaning staff escape into the restroom for a bit of hanky panky, you can just see the longing in his eyes. And when Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman) stops by on his way out of the office for a chat, Jonathan’s desire for connection and community of almost any sort couldn’t be any clearer. “I just sometimes feel so removed,” he tells Wyatt. “Sometimes I sit and I look through the glass and I see life literally pass me by.”

In many ways, the movie is like Fight Club’s psychological search for identity meets Derailed’s suspenseful tangle of sex, murder, and blackmail. If Jonathan were Edward Norton, Wyatt would be Brad Pitt. In the same way that Fight Club’s underground brawls grab hold of Norton by reminding him of the blood that courses through his veins, “The List’s” sexual liaisons just as eagerly pull in Jonathan by also offering him a means to feel more alive than he has in a very long time. And I don’t know about you, but that is a feeling I can relate to as well.

deception005.jpg (145 K)Like Jonathan, I too have experienced the feeling of being stuck behind a wall of glass and completely unable to touch the life on the other side. Instead of living, it is as if life becomes no more than a series of motions. And the scariest part is, sometimes even the most basic reflexes don’t even answer their call. I recall once telling a friend that I felt dead. I remember very clearly wishing for something, anything that would make me feel alive again. And I confess that with drugs and sex easily within my reach, even though I knew that neither would ever fill the emptiness I felt inside of me, the prospect that maybe just maybe either one would allow me to feel even the tiniest bit alive brought me very close to reaching out for both.

And so, as I watched Jonathan fall into the world of anonymous sex, I have to say I understood its lure. Unfortunately, so does Wyatt; and that is exactly what he uses it for. He knows there is a hole inside of Jonathan. He knows that Jonathan will reach out to sex to fill it. And he uses that knowledge to grab hold of Jonathan and take control. As Jesus says in Matthew, a house left empty essentially invites evil to move in and take over. And Jonathan’s fall into Wyatt’s web couldn’t illustrate that any clearer.

deception002.jpg (150 K)But what Wyatt doesn’t anticipate is that amid the temporary jolts of drugs, sex, and power he throws Jonathan’s way, Jonathan finds something of meaning that actually brings him to life. Although somewhat implausibly, Jonathan finds love. Where he simply went through the motions at the beginning of the movie, he lives for a reason that is greater than himself at its end. And even as casual sex and piles of money sit at his fingertips, Jonathan fights instead for the deeper love connection he knows to have more value than anything Wyatt could ever dangle before him.

“I don’t want to complicate your life,” warns the woman he fights for. “I want all the complications you’ve got,” Jonathan responds. And as the rest of the movie proves, with love as the life-giving force behind his actions, the new Jonathan is ready to back up that statement with all he’s got.

Just as much as Deception begins as a story about the dangers of leaving our emptiness open to the many temptations and false promises of evil, it ends as a story about the true promise of love’s ability to defeat evil and fill our emptiness with life. As Paul says in Ephesians 3, when we allow ourselves to be filled with the empty and evil promises of this world, we become dead. But thankfully, “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ.” As Jesus tells the woman at the well in John 4, the things of this earth will leave us continually thirsting for more. But what He offers us will quench our thirst forever.

In this world, there is emptiness in all of us. There are holes in millions of hearts and glass walls around thousands of lives. But thankfully, there is a love that promises to mend those holes and break those walls. Where there is disconnect, there will be communion. Where there is death, there will be life. And where there is emptiness, there will be a fullness that will never run dry. All we have to do is reach out and let it in.

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