Dec 31, 2012

Bloody business that promises more than it delivers.

Grade: C+
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters)
Screenplay: Zach Dean
Cast: Eric Bana (Hanna), Olivia Wilde (People Like Us)
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 min.
by John DeSando

“Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.” “He’s a Pilgrim” by Kris Kristofferson

The above lyrics, penned long ago by the actor who plays a troubled dad, Chet (Kristofferson), in Deadfall, describe  the dangerous journey of his son, Jay (Charlie Hunnam), from prison to home on a wintry day engulfing the players of this unexceptional thriller in murder, possible incest, and just plain meanness.

Ex-boxer, ex-con Jay inadvertently kills a former boss; elsewhere Addison (Eric Bana) and his sister, Liza (Olivia Wilde), murder a state trooper on their way from a casino heist.  All paths will eventually cross in a disappointingly predictable formula, especially because the cast is notable (also Sissy Spacek plays mom, June).

The snowy, barren Michigan landscape, crisply and menacingly photographed by Shane Hurlbut, fits the bleak crimes as well as the snow of Sam Rami’s A Simple Plan. The careening snowmobiles are more exciting than the autos, which do some heavy lifting themselves. It’s a marriage of place and plot that saves the film from cliché hell.

The Thanksgiving dinner, where gentleman and almost feminist murderer Addison entertains the principals, has potential for more character revelation than first-time writer Zach Dean gives it. It’s an intriguing setup, anyway, promising more depth next time around for this talented writer. As for the seemingly incestuous relationship of Liza and Addison, it’s unique, original, and underdeveloped. Again, a promising setup.

The opening lyrics to this review suggest a meta-theme of searching for home, exemplified by the returning brother, sister, and son, culminating in the macabre Thanksgiving feast. Before Deadfall falls into the typical thriller denouement, a much fuller drama is promised but not returned.

“It's alright, little sis - It's a good sign when you feel a little bad.” Addison to Liza

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at
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