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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No Good Deed 2014 * 1/2 Stars

No Good DeedDirector: Sam Miller
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb

No Good Deed is trashy, B movie schlock. It has an interesting twist at the end that comes too little too late. There are also some scary jolts in it that could be deemed effective in the realm of home invasion genre types. But when things go bump bump in the night soliciting artificial scares (a tree falls through a window along with multiple car alarms going off), it's hard to garner a recommendation. When the main character in peril says the cliched phrases, "why are you doing this?" or "you don't have to do this", it's also hard to garner a recommendation. And finally, when the cops show up immediately after the film's violent, confrontational conclusion (they just can't seem to arrive on time), it's hard to garner a recommendation. Just call "Deed" 2014's version of Unlawful Entry with Idris Elba getting his Ray Liotta-on for eighty-four short yet tedious minutes. Critics tried to warn audiences to stay away from this Screen Gems release. Result: Its box office take was pretty solid. Hmm, I guess I'll start looking for a new career now. Darn it!

With an ending that reminded me of 1992's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (Rebecca De Mornay ain't the only one who's getting thrown through a window these days) and a title that I initially thought was a sequel to a Tyler Perry movie, No Good Deed begins by focusing on hardened criminal Colin Evans (played by Idris Elba). He's currently serving time for manslaughter. But from the opening shot, you know that he is headed to a parole hearing only to receive a profuse refusal (good judgement by the board members if you ask me). Cut to a few minutes later and he's eluding police officers who attempt to take him back to prison. Evans then steals a car, drives to Atlanta, and proceeds to strangle (and kill) his ex-girlfriend. After committing this heinous murder, Evans drives around aimlessly only to get involved in an unfortunate car accident. Seeking shelter and a tow truck, he then walks over to the house of Terri Granger (played by Taraji P. Henson). She's a lonely, rich housewife with two kids, a lavish home, and a husband who is always away (woman's intuition tactics aside, I could tell that said hubby was easily cheating on her and I'm a dude). So I guess you can figure out what happens next. Terri plays the part of the good Samaritan, invites Colin into her house, and then all hell breaks loose. Of note: The twist I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review involves Terri's husband and Colin's girlfriend. As the proceedings move along and things come to a violently bleak climax, you'll connect the dots without any trouble at all (just think revenge or the concept of payback I guess). Oh and as mentioned earlier with the Unlawful Entry comparisons, Henson's character has the token best friend in Meg (Leslie Bibb) who is man crazy and who also gets attacked by Elba's Evans. This is similar to the plot workings in "Entry" where the Madeline Stowe character had a close relationship with her best buddy played by Deborah Offner (as Penny).

Anyway, based on various trailers, I've always had high expectations when venturing into a home invasion thriller (2007's Vacancy looked pretty solid and 2008's The Strangers seemed enticing). My excitement and variance however, have been trampled on lately and No Good Deed is "no" exception. Let's be honest, "Deed" projects some obviousness when it comes to foreseeing a series of bad occurrences that are about to happen. For one thing, it harbors the notion that it's raining outside (check). Then you have the stranded motorist who is led into the house (check). Plus, you gotta have a scene where the phone lines are cut and the knives are missing for self defense (double check). Oh and never cater to the needs of a convicted felon in an armored car (with special fighting skills, check that).

"Deed" also contains actors/actresses in it that should know better. Taraji Henson has been nominated for an Oscar and is starting to emerge as an actual movie star. Why would she agree to appear in something so one note, so generic? As for Idris Elba, well he dons facial hair and a hideous smirk to fashion a character that is virtually the opposite of the nice guy he portrayed in 2009's Obsessed. You can even call his Colin a new breed of Jason Voorhees. He gets stabbed, bitten, hit over the head four times (with hard objects), kicked in the testicles, shot a couple of times, and survives a nasty car crash. Most human beings wouldn't get through this carnage. But a thriller wouldn't be a thriller without the antagonist constantly coming at you, minimalistic bruises and all.

In conclusion, with its rating being a generous PG-13 (there are two graphic murder sequences in "Deed" that would suggest otherwise) and ho hum direction by Sam Miller that involves amateurish fast cutting, No Good Deed as a tired, routine crime thriller, is just "no good". Right before its closing credits, Henson's character gets a new hairdo and starts a new life (small spoiler alert). As for myself, I wish I could have gotten an hour and a half of mine back. Ouch!

Written by Jesse Burleson

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