Zimbio Review - 'Deadfall' Packs Punches You've Seen Before


(Studio Canal | Getty Images)
The Bottom Line
Should you see it?
Yes.

Why?
Deadfall doesn't rewrite the crime thriller genre, in fact it's a combination of a dozen films, but it's a fun ride featuring some strong performances from Bana and Wilde.
Watching Deadfall, it's impossible not to be reminded of a dozen other movies. The Counterfeiters director Stefan Ruzowitzky, who is Austrian, directs his first English-language feature and he shows a steady hand building suspense with a pedestrian script. Character development is revealed with exposition and the ending does not surprise so the director deserves most of the credit for making Deadfall as good as it is. There's nothing original about it, but the film does have its moments, and those are worth seeing.

After robbing a casino, Addison (Eric Bana) and his sister, Liza (Olivia Wilde), emerge unscathed from a brutal car wreck during their getaway. Stranded in a blizzard somewhere near the Canadian border, the two separate in hopes of securing another ride out of the U.S. They seem normal enough, that is until Liza changes clothes and Addison can't help but watch. "It's okay to look." Liza teases him. So they're incestuous. That's interesting at least, and Wilde brings a dangerous sexuality to Liza that's wholly compelling.

After the siblings split up, Liza is picked up by Jay (Charlie Hunnam), a boxer fresh out of jail and on the run after beating up an old buddy over money. He might've killed him. Jay wants to get rid of Liza but the storm gets worse and they are forced to shack up together in a bar. Guess what happens?

Meanwhile, Addison braves the elements, gets his finger taken off by a hunter, and breaks into a cabin before cops hunt him down and chase him on snowmobiles. We've seen this side of Bana before, in Hanna last year, so fight your way through the deja-vu, he's just doing the same thing again. Bana is good as a whack-job I must admit. He still has that wide-eyed insanity that made Chopper so memorable and it's fun seeing him fly off the handle.

He's at his best as the film concludes with a Thanksgiving dinner from hell. Addison takes over Jay's parents (Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson) house and holds everyone hostage with a shotgun while the turkey steams in the middle of the table. Jay and Liza show up and Jay plays it tough until Addison plants a knife in his hand. Bana goes ballistic seeing his sister with another man and he creates a fun unpredictability in the scene. Next to Killer Joe, Deadfall has the second best violent dinner scene of the year.

Bana's performance isn't the only familiar aspect of the movie. For one, it's title sounds like the new Bond movie. It's a crime film set in winter which has been done many times (Fargo, A Simple Plan). The movie features a family taken hostage in their own house, a plot element found in 1001 movies (Cape Fear, Straw Dogs, Kill Shot). The one very interesting aspect of the film, Addison and Liza's strange love, is brought up and forgotten. Deadfall does the wrong thing by separating them. Bana and Wilde are best when they share scenes.

Hunnam remains an awkward romantic actor. The Sons of Anarchy star is a great tough guy, but seems uncomfortable with the intimacy of love scenes. He and Wilde are supposed to fall in love over the course of a day, and I'm just not buying it. He goes from wanting to leave her where he found her to falling head over heels in a few hours time. He's a boxing ex-con—not exactly the romantic type. Also, wasn't he on the run from the cops? That detail neatly disappears after meeting the femme fatale.

Despite it's familiarity and lack of creativity, Deadfall remains strangely watchable. Bana and Wilde are individually compelling and doubly so in scenes together. The film has some glaring weaknesses to be sure, but it never lacks urgency. With a slightly better script, Deadfall may have been one of the year's surprise hits.

Senior Editor at Zimbio. I'll take Johnny Clay, the Rev. Harry Powell, and Annie Savoy. You can have the rest.
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