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by Jack Sommersby

"As Original as Its Title"
1 stars

The mystery is no big deal, the characters are a wash, and it's as sexy as an insurance seminar.

Harry Hamlin gives what just might be the most vacuous performance by an actor in a leading role in the dreary made-for-cable-television mystery thriller Deceptions. Playing Los Angeles police detective Nick Gentry, Hamlin is consistently clad in a black leather jacket, sleeveless T-shirts, motorcycle gloves, and sporting a Miami Vice-like five-o’-clock-shadow he comes off more like a model for GQ magazine. Nick and partner Jack Kessler (Robert Davi) are called to the scene of a posh Santa Monica mansion where the owner’s wife Adrienne Erickson (Nicollette Sheridan) has just shot her wealthy husband dead as he attacked her with a knife in a ski mask when he was supposed to be attending a business endeavor in San Francisco. Jack questions why the husband would’ve partaken in such an action what with his .357 Magnum available in their bedside drawer, but Adreinne comes up with a convenient explanation, and while Jack maintains his suspicions Nick is positively smitten -- just because she’s blonde and gorgeous and the sole benefactor of her husband’s two-million-dollar life-insurance policy doesn’t necessarily mean she’s malicious. (Yeah, right.) Predictably, Nick and Adreinne start up a torrid affair shortly thereafter, though the way their initial coupling is staged comes off as morally questionable in that Nick makes his move on her while she’s asleep in her bed -- it looks to us like he’s callously taking advantage of her, but the movie wants us to see him as so sexually voracious that he just can’t help himself. But none of this sticks because the writing doesn’t supply the underpinnings needed and Hamlin is lacking in all spontaneity. Hamlin was acceptable as the swordsman in Clash of the Titans and the homosexual writer in Making Love, and while his years-long stint in the TV series L.A. Law didn’t disgrace him, here he’s overly mannered and unbearably smug, and always “outside” the role, as if monitoring it from afar while making mild calibrations so as to cement a formulaic movie-hunk image that hasn’t an iota of freshness. And Sheridan (Hamlin’s off-screen wife) doesn’t come off much better in her lacquered interpretation. Jack describes her as a “walking wet dream,” yet all Sheridan is capable of suggesting is a Victoria Secret mannequin barely having come to life; she’s supposed to be the very epitome of a femme fatale, but she has all the carnality (not to mention, animation) of a totem pole. So with these two sticks failing at striking so much as a single spark, the movie badly needs Davi’s forceful solidity, yet he’s wasted as a sidekick, especially after having wowed us with his sensational turn as the South American drug kingpin in the James Bond entry Licence to Kill. (And speaking of cops, he made ten times the indelible impression as the heroic one in William Lustig’s career-best Maniac Cop 2 than Hamlin does in this hopeless claptrap.) Deceptions wants to be a twisty and tawdry neo-noir, but the screenplay carelessly telegraphs every one of its punches and the directing lacks tautness, compression -- this overlong hour-and-forty-four-minute movie limps toward its lackluster conclusion that never manages to even make clear why the husband had attacked his wife in the first place (instead of this being resolved, it’s dissolved). Maybe Hamlin partook in the this puerile project merely for the sake of keeping that studly wardrobe after the filming had wrapped.

The pits.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=29315&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/16/15 17:21:45
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  10-Jun-1990 (R)



Directed by
  Ruben Preuss

Written by
  Richard Taylor

  Harry Hamlin
  Nicollette Sheridan
  Robert Davi
  Marshall Colt
  Kevin King

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