Deadfall (R)

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Review byMatthew Turner12/05/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Engaging thriller, enlivened by some snowy location work and strong performances from a superb cast, though the script struggles to find the right tone

What's it all about?
Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters), Deadfall stars Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde as closely-bound brother and sister Addison and Liza, a pair of thieves who take refuge in a snowbound Michigan town after their car crashes during a casino heist getaway. When they split up, a near-frozen Liza is picked up and looked after by ex-boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), who's just got out of prison and is on the way to Thanksgiving with his loving mother June (Sissy Spacek) and disapproving father Chet (Kris Kristofferson).
Meanwhile, local cop Hanna (Kate Mara) and her belittling Sheriff father (Treat Williams) are hot on the trail of the fugitives after Addison kills a state trooper. And with Addison having tracked Liza to Chet and June's and Hanna needing to talk to Jay after an incident in Detroit, the stage is set for a Thanksgiving dinner to remember.

The Good
Bana gives good psychopath as Addison, layering his performance with a level of disarming charm that works well. Wilde is equally good as a damaged woman slowly realising that there might be something else to life and her love-at-first-sight relationship with Hunnam is both convincing and engaging. Similarly, Mara is excellent as Hanna and Sissy Spacek is delightful as the cool-headed June, insisting that they might as well all eat, seeing as she's cooked.

Deadfall is a worthy addition to the 'snow thriller' subgenre that includes the likes of Fargo and A Simple Plan. A large part of this is due to Shane Hurlbut's superb cinematography, which makes strong use of the snowy landscapes and knows the value of a drop of blood on snow-covered ground. In addition, Ruzowitzky maintains a satisfying pace throughout and the script has some welcome flashes of jet-black humour.

The Bad
That said, the film's biggest problem is that it struggles to find the right tone, to the point where we're never quite sure how seriously to take it all (the set-up is laughably contrived, yet the title suggests we're supposed to take everything at face value) or even who we're really meant to be rooting for. In addition, Williams is so ludicrously horrible to his clearly super-competent daughter that his character fails to ring true; the film might have benefited from a less one-note approach in this regard.

Worth seeing?
Deadfall is a flawed but no less enjoyable smalltown thriller that succeeds thanks to strong location work and superb performances from a likeable cast. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 29/01/2020 03:34

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