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Deal, The

Columbia/Tri-Star // R // August 16, 2005
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted August 20, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

Desperately hoping to cash in on the hot button topics of oil scarcity and Enron-style shenanigans, Harvey Kahn's The Deal is as long on blather as it is short on logic, inertia, and the fine art of storytelling.

Christian Slater plays, I believe, a hot-shot investment banker for the mega-prestigious firm of Delaney & Strong who (slowly) manages to stumble upon the fact that there's some seriously shady backroom dealings afoot. In between the long and painful sequences of bland characters spouting stuff about acquisition this and due diligence that, we're treated to a laundry list of old-time thriller conceits that apparently needed to be aired out one more time:

Russian agents, backstabbing co-workers, nefarious CEOs, stolen files, curious maps, blah, blah, etc., etc.

And it's not just that I dislike "investment banker thrillers" for no good reason. Honestly, it's called The Deal, but I'd like to oh-so-cleverly recommend it be retitled The Dull, because the flick's about as exciting as an all-night marathon of C-SPAN2. Slater rambles through scene after scene of non-stop exposition and random financial blather, never once stopping to realize that, hey, this screenplay's the next best thing to an H&R Block tax seminar.

But when The Deal tries to amp up the tension and deliver something compelling, things get even sillier. (Hint: Imagine Angie Harmon with a "Boris you eeediot!" Russian accent, or better yet, the stick-armed Selma Blair kickboxing the shit out of an evil KGB banker henchman assassin guy.) Prop your eyelids open with matchsticks and you might see folks like Selma Blair, Robert Loggia, and Colm Feore float by, but since every single performer comes armed with an unending supply of dry and dreary corporate-speak, you might not want to concentrate too heavily upon their dialogue. (Especially if you're the type who operates heavy machinery while watching self-important and aggressively bland cable movies.)

Basically, The Deal looks and sounds a whole lot like a big-budget, feature-length TV commercial for Merrill Lynch. It's Top Gun for the Securities and Exchange Commission fanboys, and it's every bit as boring as that ridiculous description sounds.

The DVD

Video: Sony treats the flick to a rather solid Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic transfer. Picture quality gets a little grainy whenever the action is taking place somewhere bathed in cigar smoke and mahogany, which is pretty often.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English or French); the persistent volleys of high-end financial mumbo-jumbo should flow through your speakers quite fluidly. (Bring a book.)

Extras: A handful of trailers for The Marksman, Murder at the Presidio, Layer Cake, In My Country, and Kung Fu Hustle.

Final Thoughts

Remember the stock market finale of Trading Places? How it was kind of confusing because A) nobody bothered to explain what was going on, and B) stock market yip-yap doesn't really make for exciting storytelling? The Deal is a lot like the last fifteen minutes of Trading Places, minus the laughs, the interesting characters, and the horny monkey.

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