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|Index||20 reviews in total|
I saw The Deal last night in Chicago. It's a dense film, with a lot of oil industry insider stuff, but very entertaining, and a really important film for people to see, given the path we're headed down in our country. Thought Selma Blair was terrific--best I've ever seen her. Robert Loggia, Colm Feore (my first time seeing him) great, too. Could have done without Angie Harmon, and would have liked the ending to extend out a bit further. I'd also have liked for there to be more intrusion of the reality of the $6/gallon world at war (which is the backdrop of the film) into the story--think that would have added even more punch--but none of that will knock a star off my rating, given the crap I've seen this summer so far--it's actually a 20 star by comparison. I guess I should say something about some of the negative critical reviews of the film. All I can conclude is that these folks are either lazy or overworked. In my experience, a lot of them have highly recommended films recently that are just garbage compared to The Deal. I guess the justification is supposed to be that these other films are "good escapes," but you know what? People already spend too much time in this country "escaping" instead of paying attention, and that's why we're in the mess that we're in. The Deal makes it fun to pay attention.
The storyline of "The Deal" has a good premise the USA officially in
war against the Arabs exclusively because of the oil and without any
subterfuge. An American Oil Corporation requests the support of a
credible Wall Street company to support a merging with a Russian Oil
Company and get the supply of the necessary oil. An ambitious executive
from Harvard is in charge of the deal and pressed by the Russians, the
board of his company and his love for a colleague.
Unfortunately, the very confused screenplay is simply awful. It is almost impossible to understand the beginning of the story so confused it is. Later, the plot is disclosed and finally the viewer can understand the situation, with lots of betrayals and jealousy. There are three favorable reviews of this movie, and two of them are written by users with only one review issued in IMDb apparently to make a fake promotion of this film. My vote is four.
Title (Brazil): "Contrato de Risco" ("Risk Contract")
Director Harvey Kahn was completely deprived of any inspiration in
bringing to screen this political thriller story, happening in the
corridors of the big corporate companies dealing with dirty oil deals,
in a close but probable future where the western world is immersed in a
war with the Arab oil-rich countries.
Nothing can really save this production. The screenplay is routine and full of stereotypes, not batter in complexity than a mid-level TV movie. Acting of Christian Slater is fair, and Selma Blair getting full time screen is quite promising as an actress, but not enough to carry the film higher. Directing is mediocre, it keeps the conflict being obscure and confusing at the start, does not make anything happening on the screen more clear or more interesting later, and moves the camera in a neutral and dry manner.
Routine stuff, nobody would have been sorry if this film was not made.
THE DEAL was made when the idea of paying $6 per gallon of gas would
spark international intrigue: now that we're well over $3.35 per gallon
that price seems less than shocking! The concept of showing how big
business and the government cover up the absurd under the table Deals
such as the one that is the focus of this meager script is now so de
rigueur that there is no melodrama or intrigue to this story. One must
credit writer Ruth Epstein, director Harvey Kahn, and executive
producer/star Christian Slater for caring enough about the chaos oil
supplies and their impact on the world at large are causing, but the
sad truth is that this tale is so ho-hum in that we all read this very
story in the newspaper everyday that it hardly seems to merit a movie.
The cast is sterling - Christian Slater as a Wall Street type, Robert Loggia as the dirty hands dealer type, Selma Blair as the idealist, and Colm Feore, John Heard, Kevin Tighe, etc all try their best to make this flabby script meaningful. The star of the movie is the musical scoring by Christopher Lennertz...and that says a lot. Without an arc of plot line and without a bit of new information about the corruption at the highest levels of this country, this film just doesn't get off the ground. Grady Harp
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie's subject matter is timely and the movie even makes an
attempt, in the end, to understand how various competing interests come
together in a deal. To get there though, you'll have to wade through
fake Russian accents, a fake Arab country and fake due diligence
conversations. The deal of the movie concerns an oil bootlegger
circumventing a US government embargo. There is drama in the
oil-for-food scandal and maybe even a plot for a movie, but this movie
is not it.
That is to say, the movie's primary flaw is that the script is only a draft and while the idea has potential, the script needed several more revisions. There are other problems too: actors didn't get sufficient direction and the editing is sporadic at times. I had no problem with the casting. Colm Feore and Robert Loggia turn in good performances.
Hollywood has a lot of difficulty making movies about business and the few that get made usually become morality plays about greed. This movie is not really an exception - but at least here, not all the corporate suits are bad guys. I watched The Deal to the end and can say I enjoyed it, if only because it tries to deal intelligently with issues most movies ignore.
Saw this film last night in Chicago, and more should see it before it disappears from the theaters (not many people there last night--looks like there's been no pub for the film). Anyway, it's a real insider's perspective on our energy situation and the really nasty scenarios we're headed into if we don't get our act together. But it's not a sermon--it's quite entertaining. Both Christian Slater and Selma Blair (a revelation) are great in it as a principal and an idealistic associate at a white-shoes Wall Street mergers & acquisition firm who are supposed to do due diligence on a merger between a major US oil company and a Russian one against the backdrop of an all-out Middle East oil war and $6.00/hour gas prices. Robert Loggia is perfect as the CEO of the US firm, Kevin Tighe is very convincing as the head of the white-shoes M&A firm, and Colm Feore is terrific as the proverbial corporate snake-in-the-grass out to sabotage Slater's deal.
It's rough to call something people worked on so hard for 'uneven' but
there it is. The Deal is, simply put, about a 'deal'. It's a Wall
Street thriller. And at the other end of the deal is oil. A planet in
trouble where the carbon monoxide level is the highest it's been in
three quarters of a million years, where 50,000,000 people are
estimated to be on the run from climate catastrophes within four years,
where the top twenty two median temperatures have been recorded in the
past twenty six years, and so forth.
It's been done before and it will be done again until the dependence on fossil fuels is ended, until the electric car is allowed to proliferate, until the oil barons get their hands off the automobile industry, until things settle down in the middle east, and so forth.
Everyone does a fair job in this one except Angie. Sorry Angie, but for reasons that can't be exposed here but that will become apparent to viewers you just don't cut it.
The movie's uneven because its thrill factor is propelled through at least half way by withholding important facts about the plot. And at that point you just have to see everything turns out all right with the usual modicum of plot devices tossed in.
Slater stars in and co-executive produces this film, which means they
got to use both his likeness and his money to try to help this film
succeed, and it still flops. The movie is second-rate (or worse) in
virtually every respect. With the exceptions of some of the names in
the credits, this movie has almost no redeeming qualities, and of
course the credits occur right at the beginning of the movie, so it's
all down hill from there.
Loggia's a solid character actor, and Slater's decent playing the same character he always plays. Even though he's 36 now, he looks like he should be drinking a Shirley Temple during the bar scenes. Blair is a stone, and an anorexic-looking, awkward stone at that. She has no talent that I can detect, with a delivery that has all the depth and warmth of a petri dish. Think Keanu Reeves, only less attractive and with boobs. Very small boobs. She's also 32, not young enough to play the recent Harvard grad she's supposed to be. Angie Harmon is gorgeous, but unimpressive as an actor, and no one else in the movie gives any sort of memorable performance.
Blair's character's romance with Slater's is completely unbelievable, as there's no chemistry between them, so the audience is left thinking "What did I miss?" when the two of them suddenly start kissing for no apparent reason. Evidently the romantic music playing on the soundtrack while they sat in meetings with clients was supposed to demonstrate the build-up of their amorous feelings. It didn't.
The plot is the one thing this movie should have going for it, given the current state of gas prices and the war in Iraq, but it's such an obvious parallel and so close to home that it's too easy to dismiss, thereby undermining the entire premise of the film. Not that the poor writing, poor direction and poor acting do much to revive it, but this Deal should have died on the table.
There she is, Selma Blair! Dontcha just love her? She has what people who don't have it call 'class'. Maybe she was a preppie once. Well, she is good for a thinkie white collar role, as she looks like she has some brains and when she is looking like she is thinking she probably is, and that's pretty unusual with starlets. I guess she and Stockard Channing could make a good mother and daughter pair one of these days, a study of the Boston Brahmins perhaps. Now there's a subject for Harvey Kahn to get his eager little teeth into. And he really delivers as director here, with this extraordinarily complex and interesting thriller set slightly in the future. It is a meditation on corporate greed, oil smuggling, international tension, Arab states, house-of-cards companies which are about to collapse, rather like the real world at the moment. It is more relevant now than it was when it was made. Christian Slater is the male lead, and he has come a long way since 'The Name of the Rose' (1986) when he was a naive little novice monk with big innocent eyes. In fact, Slater is now a bit of a rough customer, or rough diamond, or whatever kind of rough you like. But rough, really rough. I don't see his attraction at all. He looks like he is always scheming on how to rob his grandmother of a nickel. Robert Loggia is wonderfully menacing and convincing as a big-time corporate manipulator who kills people when they interfere with his illicit profits. So watch out! He may do that at home! This is a most ingenious and intricate story, just like what really goes on in Wall Street, as we all now know. If you want to know why we have had to bail out all those investment banks, watch this.
This political thriller about illegal oil trading, the Russian mafia, and government conspiracy is well done, and deserves a much better rating and credit than people give it. It is not amazing by any means, but its solidy acted, written well, reaches some very important moral and political ideas without being completely illogical and unrealistic (of course its not real, but it very well could be). Slater was good as tom hanson and i liked Robert Loggia in the supporting role as Jared TOlson, the film has good cinematography from Adam Sliwinski and editing by Richard Schwadel. Overall good effort from harvey Kahn, better than a lot of high budget films, amazing how this film probably cost a couple million to make max (perhaps 5-10 mil after slater gets his cash)...--- IMDb rating: 5.1, my rating: 8/10
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