Sunday, December 02, 2012

“Deadfall” – Movie Review

Deadfall movie poster
This weekend in my movie class, we had a bonus screening of the crime-thriller “Deadfall”, starring Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek. 

When a brother and sister team’s heist goes awry, they split up to try to escape the law – but after they reunite, will their team survive?

Addison (Bana) and his sister Liza (Wilde) have what they believe is the perfect plan when they hold up a Michigan casino – but when a horrific automobile accident ruins their getaway, they must re-think how to proceed.  Addison decides they should continue on their current path north to Canada, but that it would be best for them to both go their separate ways and meet at their ultimate destination. Fearful of going alone, Liza urges her brother to keep together; however, when he convinces her that separating would throw off the police, she agrees to hitchhike north while Addison finds a way on his own. 
Freezing at the side of the road, Liza is eventually discovered by Jay (Charlie Hunnam), a former prizefighter recently released from prison after conviction in a boxing scandal; headed up to northern Michigan to meet his parents June (Spacek) and Chet (Kristofferson) for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, he agrees to help this attractive young damsel in distress in the hope that he will achieve some form of redemption for his past misdeeds.  However, when Liza correctly sizes him up as an easy mark, she starts to play him by being flirtatious.  Ultimately, however, the tables are turned on Liza when she suddenly discovers she’s actually developing feelings for Jay. 
Following a number of adventures and ordeals, Jay brings Liza to his parents house, where she has told Addison to meet her.  As it turns out, Addison has managed to beat them there and decides to take June and Chet hostage until his sister shows up with Jay.  However, once they are all together, Addison soon comes to realize Liza no longer wants any part of his plan and instead wishes to set off on a new life with Jay.  But with the police hot on their heels and possibly moments from being captured and sent to prison, can Addison convince his sister to stay with him or will he lose her to Jay?

It is rare that my movie class shows a film such as “Deadfall” as it tends to lean towards fare that might be considered more “intellectual”.  It is also rare that my class allows me the opportunity to stumble across a real gem that I can enthusiastically recommend – but such is most certainly the case with this motion picture.  “Deadfall” is so action-packed that it hits the ground running from its first scene and doesn’t for a moment let up on its audience; it is a fast-paced thrill ride that will keep you guessing from beginning to end.
Bana is nothing short of excellent in his role as the psychopathic Addison and Olivia Wilde – what else can I say? – is scrumptious as always.  Old pros like Kristofferson and Spacek are equally enjoyable to watch – he as the gruff retired sheriff who gives no quarter to the bad guys and she as the unflappable wife who has seen it all in the decades she has spent with her husband.  If there are any negatives about “Deadfall”, it would be that there are some moments which might briefly take you out of the movie or make you challenge your suspension of disbelief (e.g. – Where did Jay get the pickup truck?  Are Addison and Liza engaged in an incestuous romance?  How does Addison survive the brutal beatings his body takes throughout the story?).  But this may be nitpicking – if you’re really enjoying the movie, these questions won’t slow you down very much.
After the screening, the class discussed the movie; most students appeared to enjoy it as much as I did, including our instructor, who claimed that much of the criticism of this film that he has read in the trade papers seems to harp on a good deal of the story being clichéd and predictable; he disagreed with this assessment and so do I – “Deadfall” takes hold of you and you never quite know where you’re headed.  For some time now, this movie has been playing as one of the Video On Demand selections from my local cable TV provider, but I hadn’t had a chance to view it until now.  If you likewise see it in your movie listings or find it playing at a local theater, I urge you to check it out – “Deadfall” is quite the welcome respite from the warm and fuzzy holiday product typically available this time of year.  All of that said, however, be aware of the fact that the movie is chock full of explicit bloody violence that might be a deal-breaker for some of you.

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