Old 12-06-2012, 04:46 PM
Stefan Ruzowitzky's Deadfall

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Deadfall (2012)

“Deadfall” is a rather tangential film. It starts off with an opening scene that had the potential to go in any number of intriguing directions. Instead, despite having several interesting possibilities to choose from, the film splits into a fractured mess of storylines that don’t live up to the expectations set in the first scene. In a sense, I was reminded of the recent films “Skyfall” and “A Late Quartet,” the former because it failed to live up to its opening scene, while the latter had storylines that didn’t fit very well into the main plot. Just having one of these problems can hurt a film pretty badly, but when you have both, it only makes things worse.

The film starts as Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are on the run in the far north of the US after having recently pulled off a heist. The third member of the group, who is driving the car, accidentally hits a deer, which causes their car to skid through the snow and flip over, killing him instantly. Addison decides that it would be best for Liza and him to split up, so the two go their separate ways with plans to try and meet back up.

Meanwhile, we also meet a former boxer named Jay (Charlie Hunnam) who has recently been released from prison. Not long after his release, he goes to visit his former coach to collect some money, but ends up in a fight with him instead. After knocking him out, a frightened Jay goes on the run in an attempt to avoid being sent back to prison. While on the snowy roads, he just happens upon Liza, who seems just about to freeze to death. His intention is to drop her off at a club, but the police suddenly close the roads, causing them both to be stuck together. This, as you probably could have guessed, paves the way for a closer relationship.

Addison finds his own set of problems as he tries to get to safety. He’s badly injured while trying to steal a snowmobile and eventually ends up at a cabin where he feels the need to protect a mother and her children from an abusive father. However, after he is discovered, he is forced to make a getaway, which leads him to the house of June (Sissy Spacek) and Chet (Kris Kristofferson), Jay’s parents. What unfolds is a dangerous situation that only gets worse when Jay and Liza show up.

This is another film where you can tell that there’s a lot going on just from the synopsis, and I didn’t even mention everything. Something else you can probably tell is just which storylines are completely unnecessary to the main story. The main one that sticks out for me was that of Jay, the former boxer. His story is never developed very far, making him a superfluous character. When he starts a random relationship with Liza, it ends up feeling like the writer, Zach Dean, is just wasting time until the final confrontation.

You also have Addison’s random encounter with the family in the woods, another instance that feels like the writer is stalling. However, the storyline that I didn’t even bother mentioning due to its complete misplacement involves a police officer, Hannah (Kate Mara), looking to get accepted by her dad, who just happens to run the local police department. Hannah is the kind of young officer who wants to go by the book while trying to find the suspects, but unfortunately, hers is another character that is not developed very well. Forcing her storyline into the film doesn’t do it any favors.

As for the big confrontation at the end, it’s a situation that should be full of suspense, leaving you on the edge of your seat as you wonder what will happen next. Sadly, it’s completely defused by badly-written dialogue and the feeling of having all of the storylines forced together, including the undeveloped and unnecessary ones. This all comes to a head when you discover that the only reason Jay’s character was made a boxer was so that it could be part of a forced and contrived conclusion.

“Tangential” and “forced” are really the two words that describe this movie best. It had such potential, but as to why Dean let is spiral out of control so badly remains a mystery. That being said, it’s only his first screenplay, so hopefully he’ll use this opportunity as a learning experience to return with a strong sophomore effort. “Deadfall” just goes to show that if you lose control of the story early on, it’s going to be very hard to recover it later. 2/4 stars.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:45 AM
Thanks for the review..
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