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The Deceivers Movie Review

brosnan character kapoor jaffrey

The Deceivers appears to have everything going for it: a handsome hero (Pierce Brosnan), fine support from excellent character actors Shashi Kapoor and Saeed Jaffrey, fascinating Indian locations, and a plot that promises mystery, suspense, and danger. It bogs down in murky character development, a fatal lack of conviction about who the villains are, and an obvious series of false discussions that drag the plot down at every turn. ("I can't do it.” “Yes, you can.” “No, I can't.” “You must.” and so forth until we cut to the next scene with Brosnan doing what he couldn't with no effort at all.) Based on a true story, The Deceivers are also known as Thugees, a weird, murderous cult that thrived in India, circa 1825. I tend to be suspicious of internal problems that can only be sorted out by British outsiders or by Shirley Temple; after all, Great Britain had and has its share of weird murderers and nobody ever suggests that Rajahs be imported to clear up those problems. That said, the film is further burdened by Brosnan's bewildered performance. When the Irish actor appeared in The Long Good Friday with Bob Hoskins, he delivered a crisp, menacing performance, quite free of any tendency to sweeten his character. After four years of playing a heroic television detective, Brosnan seems more interested in stardom (with substance, of course!) than in acting. It's hard to figure out what he's trying to do with his character, a problem we don't have with co-stars Kapoor and Jaffrey. Also in the cast are David Robb, who specializes in playing husbands of icons of the ‘60s (Hayley Mills) and the ‘80s (Diana, Princess of Wales). Keith Michell, considerably puffier than in his lean days onstage in the ‘70s when he played Peter Abelard in the nude, is virtually unrecognizable here. The Deceivers is produced by Ismail Merchant, taking a busman's holiday from his meticulous production team of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and James Ivory. With a script straight out of Screenwriting I by Michael Hirst (from John Masters’ novel) and clumsy schoolboy direction by Nicholas Meyer, Merchant seems to be taking a crash course in the Classics Illustrated school of filmmaking.

1988 (PG-13) 112m/C IN GB Pierce Brosnan, Saeed Jaffrey, Shashi Kapoor, Keith Michell, David Robb; D: Nicholas Meyer; W: Michael Hirst; C: Walter Lassally. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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