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‘Delusion’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 07, 1991

Carl Colpaert's thriller "Delusion" is a cautionary tale of some sort or another, though what it cautions us against is a little hard to decipher. It could be a chic lesson in the cost of violating your moral principles, or simply a travelers' advisory against picking up strangers on the side of the road. My guess is that it's intended as the former, but works best as the latter. Either way, we're lost.

The film's protagonist is a young computer executive, George (Jim Metzler), whose firm is being bought out. For the last five years he's slaved away with his team to perfect his company's product. Now that team is being broken up, and George can't stomach it. To salvage his hard labor, he devises a scheme to secretly siphon off company funds and start his own renegade firm in Reno. When he springs his plan on the colleague who's supposed to work the money transfer, the man says, "I don't like it, George. You're crossing a line here."

That's what "Delusion" is all about -- crossing the line. And George, of course, must be punished, regardless of his motives. But does that mean we have to suffer too? Pretty as it is, "Delusion" is the movie equivalent of having to stay after school, especially when George hooks up with a punchy contract killer named Chevy (Kyle Secor) and his luscious sidekick, Patti (Jennifer Rubin). On the road to Reno, George picks them up after Chevy cracks up his car. Then Chevy, who is on his way to make a hit, kidnaps George, whose trunk is stuffed with money, and because he witnessed the murder, leaves him for dead and steals his Volvo, unaware of the fortune in the tire well.

At this point, with Secor contorting himself on the screen, we become aware of yet another, unexpected menace: the dangers of certain unrestrained varieties of Method acting. It's a toss-up, though, as to which is more alienating, Secor's hyperactive mania or Metzler's catatonia. Rubin, whose career alternates between modeling and acting, is mostly along for the ride; there's a hint of a character here, but not much of one, and she seems reluctant to explore what is there. Mostly, she's the movie's bauble.

The film is set in the Nevada desert, and Colpaert, who wrote the script with Kurt Voss, gives it the airless, alienated style of a spaghetti western. He even stages a final shootout between George and Chevy at Death Valley Junction just to underline the film's mod allegorical subtext. He needn't have bothered. It's not something we could possibly have missed.

"Delusion" is rated R for nudity, language and modest violence.

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