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Review: ART OF DECEPTION (2018)

A CIA plot to take over the world via mind control. A brilliant scientist who’s not what he seems to be, on the run. Forced to fight back and save his wife from assassins. Sounds like the latest Hollywood action film? It’s actually Art Of Deception, a low-budget indie action film from director Richard Ryan and co-writer Michael Marcelin. So, how good is this Bourne on a budget effort?

Joseph Markham (Richard Ryan) is a scientist working on a top-secret project. One that involves a deliberately engineered virus, its cure, and an implantable nanochip. Upon finding out that not only is he not getting a raise, but that they plan to kill him to cover their tracks, he goes on the run.

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In response, the CIA’s Deputy Director Roland Smith (Leon van Waas) dispatches assassins after him and has his wife Valentina (Jackie Nova) kidnapped. Can he manage to stay alive long enough to save her, and the world?

Art Of Deception starts off on a good note, with the killing of another of the project’s now unneeded researchers. Unfortunately, it quickly goes downhill from there. When we meet Joseph, he’s in a top-secret lab that looks like an old schoolroom, complete with a chalkboard and a painting of an astronaut on the wall. And he’s finishing one of the chips by holding it with tweezers and blowing on it with a hairdryer. And as you’ve probably guessed, the facility’s security consists of a few unarmed guys. No guns or tasers, not even a nightstick to be found.

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Anyone who reads my reviews knows I love low-budget films. But you have to match your ambition to your budget. Trying to pass this off as the headquarters of a high-tech CIA plot to take over the world destroys the film’s credibility right out of the gate. And with its plot, Art Of Deception needs every bit of credibility it can get.

The whole engineered virus and cure idea is laughable when con artists like Alex Jones are using it to separate fools from their money. It’s even less believable in the hands of the kind of actors Art Of Deception could afford. And then there’s the matter of how we ended up with this scientist/ninja involved in the program. And that he can conjure up a team of elite hackers that can breach the CIA’s network in a matter of minutes?

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In the end, Art Of Deception is long on talk and short on action. It’s also short on believability unless you happen to be a conspiracy freak. Don’t be deceived by the comparisons to the Bourne films. If you want to see low-budget action done right, try We Will Not Die Tonight instead.

Breaking Glass Pictures will release Art Of Deception on DVD & VOD on October 8th.

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