DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
DEADFALL (director: Stefan Ruzowitzky; screenwriter: Zach Dean; cinematographer: Shane Hurlbut; editors: Dan Zimmerman/Arthur Tarnowski; music: Marco Beltrami; cast: Eric Bana (Addison), Olivia Wilde (Liza), Charlie Hunnam (Jay), Sissy Spacek (June), Kris Kristofferson (Chet), Treat Williams (Sheriff Becker), Kate Mara (Deputy Sheriff Hanna Becker), Kevin Desfosses (State Trooper), Alain Goulem (Bobby), Benoit Priest (Stund); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Ben Cosgrove/Shelly Clippard/Mark Cuban/Gary Levinsohn; Magnolia Pictures; 2012)

"It circles its way from a conventional thriller to a dodgy love story, and leaves in its path a few dead bodies and a few living crippled psyches that need healing and real love."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Former music video director, the Austrian-born Stefan Ruzowitzky ("Anatomy"/"Tempo"/"The Counterfeiters"), helms this pointless gory thriller set on Thanksgiving Day, on the Michigan side of the Canadian border (snowbound Quebec subs for Michigan's Upper Peninsula). It follows the scent of film noir, as it lays on us a depressing crime drama of troubled characters on the run from the law, who all are victims of circumstances and bad fathers and if not for that, we are led to believe, could have been possibly good citizens. It circles its way from a conventional thriller to a dodgy love story, and leaves in its path a few dead bodies and a few living crippled psyches that need healing and real love. Its bloody action sequences leave a sting that counter its questionable over-baked plot developments, as it has at least one too many coincidences to consider as believable. Writer Zach Dean wants it be a badass flick more than anything else, and gets his wish. Lenser Shane Hurlbut wants it to be atmospheric above all else, and he also gets his wish.

Alabama siblings, the protective Addison (Eric Bana) and his younger sister Liza (Olivia Wilde), rob a Michigan casino and while fleeing their car crashes from car trouble on a deserted snowy road, leaving the black driver dead. When a state trooper (Kevin Desfosses) comes upon the crash site and offers his assistance, psycho Addison kills him in cold blood. Addison then splits the stolen money with his sister, gives her a gun and schemes for them to go their separate ways across the snowy rural fields of northern Michigan to cross the nearby Canadian border during a blizzard and meet once across the border. Liza hitches a ride with ex-boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), just released from prison for taking a dive in a pro fight and while upon his release visiting his former Detroit boxing gym the Olympic silver medal winner settles scores with his crooked manager who set him up for the fall and reacts to Jay's visit for money by unexpectedly attacking him. Jay punches out the slime-ball, leaving him for dead and heading to his dad's hunting cottage in the woods to avoid the police.

Liza and Jay have a good chemistry together and when whiteout conditions close the roads, they make love in a motel overnight. Liza is conflicted in the morning after arranging prior to the lovemaking for her psycho brother to meet her in Jay's parents' cottage.

Addison arrives at the cottage and meets Jay's caring mother June (Sissy Spacek) and his stern unforgiving but decent retired sheriff father Chet (Kris Kristofferson), and holds them hostage. The madman before arriving at the cottage takes time out to murder an Indian (Benoit Priest) backwoodsman on a snowmobile, an evil step-father (Alain Goulem) and a few local cops on snowmobiles tracking the casino robbers and cop killer at the request of the state troopers. For his trouble Addison has his pinky sliced off and a gunshot wound in his leg, before confronting the loving family he never had.

Hanna Becker (Kate Mara) is the deputy sheriff, treated like dog shit by her widowed angry sheriff father (Treat Williams), leading the manhunt, who is a friend of Jay's family and goes to their house at the request of a Detroit detective who wants to question Jay about the boxing manager found unconscious. Of course, instead of going out to the cottage she could have just called. But that way she wouldn't have been taken hostage by Addison, along with Jay and his parents, and the film's forced agenda (conflict between father and child) wouldn't have been carried out as something schematic.

Things get resolved in a final shootout that should satisfy the viewer, with justice being served in an odd way. It makes sure those who deserve to die do so because they're shits and those who deserve to live because either they're good folks or if they did wrong they were trapped into making bad decisions by circumstances and are now given a second chance to live an honest life.

A menacing performance by Bana, makes him  the most compelling figure in this pic. The Oedipal complex thriller pales in comparison to Sam Raimi's somewhat more convincing similarly atmospheric film noir A Simple Plan (1998).

REVIEWED ON 11/28/2012       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED   DENNIS SCHWARTZ