Deadfall (2013)

Deadfall (2013)

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Staring off-camera in a slightly heroic pose, version 47.
Staring off-camera in a slightly heroic pose, version 47.

Twitter Plot Summary: Eric Bana has horrible things happen to him, whilst Olivia Wilde hangs out with Charlie Hunnam.

Five Point Summary:

1. Addison won’t be happy until he’s killed everybody.
2. Jay has the boxing equivalent of Bruce Lee’s one inch punch.
3. Liza only seems to exist to sleep with Jay.
4. Addison: still trying to kill everybody.
5. This is supposed to be a tense thanksgiving meal. It’s not.

It’s a common piece of scriptwriting advice that you should always start your film with the action already in motion, and thus it is that we meet Eric Bana’ Addisom and Olivia Wilde’s Liza, siblings who have a bag full of cash on the back seat of their car and the possibility that there may be a somewhat unsavoury element to their relationship. After they escape from a car crash, he decides that they should split up and meet again after they have crossed over into Canada.

Meanwhile Charlie Hunnam’s Jay has just got out of prison and goes on the lam after an altercation with his former boxing trainer goes awry, and Kate Mara’s police officer Hannah has to contend with her father’s inherent protectiveness/sexism as the sheriff. There’s also the gruff presence of Kris Kristofferson making things gruffer than is absolutely necessary in this bleak winter landscape, but sadly for him he doesn’t have much presence beyond this, and the less said about Sissy Spacek’s involvement the better – she’s given very little to work with beyond one scene demonstrating her character’s own inner strength.

"You want me to do what with all of this money?"
“You want me to do what with all of this money?”

This is a land permanently covered in snow, as if we’ve travelled through the wardrobe into Narnia and found the alumni of House, Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards and that Ang Lee Hulk film taking part in their own version of CS Lewis’ Christian allegory. It seems that the only reason for there being so much snow is because blood looks really good when splattered against it. Beyond that, it’s just another dramatic thriller that appears to be missing half of its plot.

Deadfall has a frankly ludicrous setup that brings all of these characters together, leading up to a Thanksgiving meal that is supposed to be a tense event but instead ends far too quickly and lacks the dramatic kick that it was aiming for. Therein lies Deadfall’s main concern – the script isn’t nearly tight enough in its plotting and thriller narrative, over-egging the kitchen sink drama and emotional strife without ever progressing beyond portraying it at a deeper level.

There are at least spirited performances from all involved. Bana carries much of the story, a conflicted character who has a moral code that makes adults fair game for his homicidal tendencies, yet will go out of his way to protect children. He also happens to be the character who legitimately has the most to complain about given the unfortunate set of circumstances that he encounters after he leaves his sister.

Olivia Wilde’s accent seems to wobble throughout, but this may be something to do with her character’s uncertain history rather than a bad performance. Hunnam meanwhile convinces as a man who has a boxing past but is keen to control his anger issues. Unfortunately, he deserves to be in a much better film, and his charater’s story would have benefitted from being considered in isolation to Addison and Liza’s own issues.

Strong performances and some attractive cinematography (and yet more blood splattered on snow) aren’t enough to redeem Deadfall, it’s yet another case of a thriller with a number of big name actors but forever destined to end up in the direct to DVD bargain bucket. An actual ending wouldn’t have hurt either.

Score: 2.5/5

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