The Deal
directed by Harvey Kahn
(Front Street, 2005)

Here's a film that doesn't seem to have gotten a fair shake. The Deal is a darn good story about corruption, greed, oil, politics, murder and all sorts of nasty things going on behind Wall Street doors by some of those three-piece suit types. Christian Slater is a fine actor, Selma Blair proves quite charming, and no movie has ever been hurt by the casting of Robert Loggia. The fact that such a story is all too believable in today's world serves as a hook of sorts -- or maybe not. All I know is that The Deal is an effective thriller featuring some nice plot twists (although I did see some of them coming -- and I'm not usually that good at picking up on things) inside a juicy story.

Here's the setting for the film: America is at war with the "Confederation of Arab States," gas is over six bucks a gallon and going nowhere but up, and the economy is seriously on the skids. Condor, led by its celebrated CEO Jared Tolson (Loggia), is working on a deal to ease America's gas shortage (not to mention fatten his pockets to overflowing) -- through a merger with Blackstar, a Russian company with (supposedly) deep oil reserves in Kazakhstan. All he needs is a hot-shot Wall Street wonderboy from a prestigious company to sweet talk his board into accepting the deal -- and that's where Tom Grover (Slater) comes in (after candidate No. 1, Grover's best friend, gets iced at the start of the movie). Grover works for an ultra-prestigious firm that is also feeling the economic crunch and could certainly use the $25 million dollars Tom will bring in just by helping Tolson sell the merger. He signs on, even though he isn't exactly an expert at evaluating geological reports, etc. That's actually one of the reasons he was chosen, though -- Tolson's boys aren't exactly high on Grover doing a lot of research on the fields in question.

Representing the forces of good is Abbey Gallagher (Blair), a Harvard graduate who wants to save the world and has an innovative idea for helping those seeking alternative energy sources further their research. The snake pit of Wall Street is the last place she wants to be, but Gordon convinces her that his company can make her alternative energy dream a reality (because the company can make money by doing so). The two become close (apparently, Gordon has no qualms about dating an employee), which ultimately puts Abby in danger when Gordon finds out some disturbing truths about his big deal with Tolson. That, of course, sets the stage for a suspenseful ending. With himself and Abby in danger, his company sitting on a potential time bomb that could bring it to its knees, and -- lest we forget -- the national security interests of the whole country at stake, what will Gordon do? What can he do?

The Deal never manages to be edge-of-your-seat thrilling, but it is certainly suspenseful. It's also quite relevant in today's world of government corruption, unethical business practices and moral ambiguity. The deal itself is the kind of thing J.R. Ewing would probably be cooking up if Dallas were still on the air -- but J.R. would have done a better job of it.

by Daniel Jolley
25 March 2006

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