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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

Lies and Illusions: shambolic and poorly made

Lies and Illusions sees Christian Bale and Cuba Gooding Jr in need of a better script.

Lies and Illusions

Director: Tibor Takacks

Starring: Christian Slater, Cuba Gooding, Jr.

If there are two actors who must wish it were still the 1990s, they're Christian Slater and Cuba Gooding Jr. Once the Jack Nicholson for the slacker generation, it's been a long time since Slater appeared in any film of note, while Gooding's plummeting post-Oscar career is the stuff of legend (from Jerry Maguire peak to Disney bomb Snow Dogs in just five years). Now they appear opposite each other for the action thriller Lies and Illusions, from long-time TV movie director Tibor Takacks.

Wes Wilson (Slater) is a self-help guru madly in love with his girlfriend Sam (Sarah Ann Schultz). That is until a group of men brutally attack and kidnap her, with Wes helpless to save her. Time passes, and a haunted Wes slowly rebuilds his life by meeting reporter Nicole (Christa Campbell), only for his world to be shattered again when he finds out Sam is alive and all along has been working for a mysterious crime boss named Isaac (Gooding).

Now both Wes and Sam must find some missing diamonds that have been stolen from Isaac before he catches up with them. To say the plot is ludicrous is a massive understatement. Both the quality of the script and the scale of production are poor, leading to something that feels like an average TV show at best. There's even a hint at Bond aspirations with a 007-style opening sequence, but Daniel Craig need not lose much sleep just yet.

The majority of the film is taken up by chases, usually involving a window being smashed, and despite one impressive car stunt there is very little to recommend. Throughout the film there is an inherent lack of quality. Whether that is due to budgetary constraints or the relative inexperience of the filmmakers at this level is uncertain, but the film is basically a good idea executed very poorly. Slater runs from each incident desperately trying to make the best of what little he is being given, and although his charm carries some scenes he cannot make a bad story good. There are points when the actor seems as mystified as the audience as improbable twist follows improbable twist, and struggles as he is asked to move from punch-throwing action man to screaming damsel in distress at will.

Similarly, Gooding is full of blank faced menace but given the predictability of the whole affair you never really believe our hero is in any kind of jeopardy, especially given the rather bad marksmanship of his henchmen. A disappointingly neat ending wraps up a shambolic, poorly made movie that, even given the principal actors' absence from the limelight, should have been better given the talent the filmmakers were given to work with. Attempting in vain to emulate the greats of the action/thriller genre, a miscast Slater must look to different avenues if he is to make the comeback movie fans have been hoping for, or maybe just find a better script.