(Australia/Canada - 2013)
Osterberg: "Welllll...Agent Nelson!"
Nelson: "You'll be exchanging this view for an 8 x 10 cell soon enough."
Osterberg: "Don't be making predictions above your pay grade, Agent Nelson. Care to stay for lunch?"
Nelson: "I'd care to kick your ass!"
ABSOLUTE DECEPTION pretty much stays at that level throughout, with Gooding sleepwalking through a paid Australian vacation as Agent Nelson investigates the murder of an American named Archer (Ty Hungerford) at the hands of hitmen in the employ of Australian media mogul Osterberg, who may have been involved in some convoluted Ponzi scheme with the dead man. Archer also led a mysterious double life, as Rebecca (Emmanuelle Vaugier), his crusading journalist wife back in NYC, believes she's a widow whose husband died two years earlier. Nelson and Rebecca team up, facing obstacles from Osterberg and the Gold Coast police all the way.
The film plods along under the clock-punching direction of Ozploitation icon Brian Trenchard-Smith, who's mainly doing Lifetime and cable movies these days, in addition to directing episodes of the Skinemax series CHEMISTRY. Trenchard-Smith gets a lifetime pass thanks to his cult-movie glory days of THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (1975), STUNT ROCK (1978), ESCAPE 2000 (1982), BMX BANDITS (1983), DEAD-END DRIVE-IN (1986), THE SIEGE OF FIREBASE GLORIA (1989), and numerous others, but he hasn't made a noteworthy genre film in almost 20 years and it's really sad to see him slumming with forgettable junk like this. The kind of movie that has an establishing shot of the NYC skyline with the caption "New York, USA," ABSOLUTE DECEPTION showcases dubiously crummy visual FX, from the de rigeur CGI splatter to a yacht explosion that looks like it was achieved courtesy of an app on Trenchard-Smith's smartphone (check it out in the trailer above), and from the video-burned credits on, it looks more like an episode of CSI: MIAMI than an actual movie. With the easily-removable digital blood and the surprising lack of profanity (at one point, Vaugier calls someone "a miserable puke"), it almost looks like it was shot under the presumption that it might go directly to broadcast TV. Gooding's performance is passable--he obviously doesn't give a shit--but Vaugier, sporting some incredibly unflattering penciled-on eyebrows that make her look a decade older than she is, is just awful. (R, 92 mins)
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS
(US/Germany - 2013)
media blitz when the film was finally released in January 2013, often appearing to be in physical pain trying to sound enthusiastic about it. The film did well enough for a sequel to be announced, though I can't imagine anyone--starting with Renner--wanting one. Then again, we got a sequel to G.I. JOE, so what do I know? (R, 88 mins)
(Canada - 2012)
played in THE BOONDOCK SAINTS) and Stephen McHattie (as Lloyd's alcoholic dad) really struggling. Other than the unexpected casting of Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson in a small role as a doctor in a rehab clinic trying to help Woodsy get clean, there's nothing of note in the bland and predictable ECSTASY. It's not a terrible movie by any means, but all it really succeeds in doing is making you wish you were watching TRAINSPOTTING again instead. (Unrated, 104 mins, also streaming on Netflix)