Stars: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson, Kate Mara | Written by Zach Dean | Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky
Austrian Academy Award Winning (The Counterfeiters) director Stefan Ruzowitzky, whose previous work includes the Franka Potente-starring horror Anatomy and it’s well-received sequel some three years later (two films I rather enjoyed) turns his hand to the heist movie with Deadfall.
Siblings Addison (Bana) and Liza (Wilde) are on the run from a casino heist gone wrong. When a car accident leaves their wheel man and a state trooper dead, they split up and make a run for the Canadian border in the worst of circumstances – a near whiteout blizzard. While Addison heads cross-country, creating mayhem in his wake, Liza is picked up by ex-boxer Jay (Hunnam), en-route for a Thanksgiving homecoming with his parents, June (Spacek) and retired sheriff Chet (Kristofferson). It’s there the siblings are reunited in a terse and thrilling showdown that pushes the bonds of family to the limit…
Those “Nordic Noir” movies have a lot to answer for… Yet another slice of dark drama that tries to capture the same style (and success) as the dark Norwegian dramas that have proliferated movies and TV since the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Deadfall at least looks the part thanks to the production designer Paul Austerberry, who works the same magic he did on 30 Days of Night in this film, this time on the stunning landscapes of Quebec, Canada.
But that’s about all Deadfall going for it. The characters are two-dimensional stereotypes – even Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde can’t work miracles with a terrible script. In fact all Wilde seems to do is spend her time trying to look like a vulnerable sex-pot – a dichotomy which doesn’t work, no matter how much I like Wilde as an actress and as a peice of eye-candy. As for the rest of the cast, it’s good to see Treat Williams working in a bigger-budget movie but did he have to be such as asshole? He acts like a bastard towards his daughter – a fellow police officer – but there’s no back story as to why. It’s as if writer Zach Dean liked the cliche of a cop not wanting his daughter on the force (something we’ve seen time and time again) and ran with it. Worst of all, Mara’s cop is actually the best on Williams’ force!
And that’s the problem with Deadfall altogether. It’s a by-the-numbers film that, even though the story does build suspense quite well, can’t get past the “seen it all before” cliches and stereotypes that plague its script. A waste of the (obvious) talents involved, if you want to see a great American snow-bound crime drama, go watch Fargo again.
Deadfall is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.