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The Deal

To The Victor Goes the Oil

The Deal portrays a not too distant future that seems frighteningly close to our own; the U.S. is engaged in a three-year war with the "Confederation of Arab States" (a thinly veiled euphemism for Iraq?) and is confronted with the worst oil crisis ever. With gas prices skyrocketing to more than $6/gallon and the economy in the toilet, something has to give…or does it?

Christian Slater plays über-successful investment banker, Tom Hanson. Despite his successes, his firm has had an abysmal year and is in dire need of a…DEAL. Funny how the death of a close friend can provide one with just the kind of opportunity a struggling investment banker needs. Even more funny is when your recently deceased friend was in the midst of presiding over a blockbuster merger that promises to make billions of dollars for all concerned parties in black, bubbling crude.

Naturally, this "deal" is far too good to be true and a web of intrigue is quickly spawned ensnaring Hanson and his recently hired (and romanced) colleague, Abby Gallagher (played by Selma Blair). Fortunately, director Harvey Kahn and writer Ruth Epstein smartly choose not to get bogged down in politics and focus their energies in crafting a tight thriller. For the most part, The Deal works.

Where things got a bit challenging was in the romance between Tom Hanson and Abby Gallagher. While the romance is absolutely essential to the story, onscreen it's not terribly convincing. It doesn't seem like there is genuine chemistry between the two, rather obligatory chemistry. A bit more flirty banter and repartee might have addressed this issue. The lack of believability of this romance undermines some of the tension later in the film when Abby is in jeopardy.

However, The Deal is frighteningly believable in just about every other department. A large part of this can be attributed to writer Ruth Epstein. The majority of the film takes place in the financial mecca of New York's Wall Street. Epstein spent ten years working for Goldman & Sachs and this certainly comes across in the film. Interestingly enough, Epstein began working on The Deal prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. There are a number of elements of the The Deal that seem prescient; one has to wonder if Epstein is clairvoyant.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars