Dienstag, 25. November 2014

No Good Deed

At one point during British director Sam Miller's Atlanta-set home-invasion thriller "No Good Deed", the protagonist taunts his victim: "With all your brains [...] you'd have figured out the game by now." But that's exactly the problem. Up until the movie's last minutes, we actually don't know what game is being played. And for essentially one extended duel fought at close quarters, not clarifying the motivations of its aggressor and the stakes of the situation all but takes the life out of the whole conflict, leaving something behind that's senselessly violent and mildly ludicrous.

The story begins as a convict escapes police custody, settles a score with his unfaithful lover, then lands, by all appearances, on the doorsteps of a random house. It's not clear what he wishes to achieve and why he's terrorizing the poor woman living there. The female lead- a former prosecutor specializing in crime against women, no less- further comes off as exceptionally unintelligent, not just being unobservant and grossly careless, but, like all other supporting characters, somehow intent on antagonizing an obviously dangerous man. Such is the frustration from watching a tepid cat-and-mouse play with two dull/dim participants.

Idris Elba certainly has no problem holding the camera's gaze, but something about his portrayal of an emotionally unstable sociopath just feels forced. If a successful villainous role can turn the audience both repulsed and sympathetic, this poorly sketched and inconsistently acted mass murderer who gets stabbed and hit in the head so many times during the course of the film it starts to get comical, confuses above all else.

Cheesily thunderous but never truly over-the-top, this failed B-movie doesn't even give you the satisfaction of some legitimate guilty pleasure. Its one good deed might be the fact that it manages to bring things to a close within 84 short, relatively painless minutes.

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