PLOT: Brother and sister thieves, on the run after a casino heist went awry, are separated on the snowy border between Michigan and Canada. The brother finds himself pursued by the local authorities, while the sister shacks up with an ex-boxer who is returning home after several years in prison.
REVIEW: A snow-covered noir with shades of A SIMPLE PLAN, Stefan Rozowitsky's DEADFALL is an engaging if not quite compelling crime drama with elements and plot strands that are as familiar as an old glove. Ex-cons, femme fatales, a bag of loot, a determined small town cop, a climactic confrontation that is destined from the get-go, the film isn't attempting to reinvent the wheel as far as the genre goes, which definitely hampers it, but it's kept afloat by a solid director working with an assertive cast.
DEADFALL introduces us to a pair of wicked siblings - Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) - fresh from robbing a casino with a cohort and on their way to the Canadian border in the dead of winter. Not two minutes into meeting them, their car hits a deer, killing their partner and leaving them stranded on the side of the road. After Addison ruthlessly dispatches a cop who stops by, the duo (who have one of those icky brother-sister relationships with incestuous undertones that you'll only find in thrillers), decide to split up and meet later in Canada... And thus begin their two separate adventures.
Meanwhile, we meet Jay (Charlie Hunnam), just sprung from a Detroit prison and on his way home after disgracing himself in the boxing ring with a thrown fight. Once a silver medalist in the Olympics, Jay is now hoping to start anew, with the first stop being his parents' (Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson) house in Michigan where he can mend the broken relationship, especially his father, who is thoroughly ashamed of him. Jay quickly finds himself in trouble literally about an hour after being released (he knocks out his former coach, who set him up and helped put him behind bars) and now has to make a quick escape to the countryside.
As luck would have it, Jay meets up with Liza, who initially plans on using the poor fool to ferry her across the border to a meet-up with her brother. Tragic circumstance dictates, however, they get stuck in a roadside truckstop thanks to a blizzard, where they can get to know each other, share pieces of their past, and, duh, fall in love. Addison, for his part, survives an increasing amount of strange confrontations in the wilderness that are too strange (and preposterous) to list here, but he soon finds heat coming down on him in the form of one of the town's deputies (Kate Mara), a good cop who strains to prove herself to her Alpha male sheriff daddy (Treat Williams).
Everything culminates with a most unusual Thanksgiving dinner that should make you feel better about your own awkward family gatherings.
Sound like a soap opera yet? DEADFALL, while a noir with the expected amount of violence and suspense that comes with the genre, treasures its many melodramatic plot contrivances, not to mention the ample amount of psychological traumas its characters have. Everyone has daddy issues, for starters: The siblings grew up with a bastard of a father (Addison gets to work out some aggression when he just happens upon a family living in fear of an abusive drunk), while Jay needs to reconcile with his own dad who had such high hopes for his potential. Then there's the plucky deputy who has an opportunity to leave her small hick town to train with the FBI, but can't seem to break away from her hard-ass pop because she must first demonstrate her worth to him. And what better way than to bring down the bad guy in their midst?
Yes, this is film noir by way of psychoanalysis, and it becomes a tad laughable when it's apparent that everyone would probably get along a lot better if they'd only realize that they all have the same unresolved pasts.
Even if its twists are predictable and its ending preordained, DEADFALL manages to be a mostly entertaining time thanks to Rozowitsky's expert directing (every scene is very well staged) and a handsome ensemble of convincing actors. Bana, whose Addison is most certainly a bad man with just a smidgen of heart, steals the show, giving a sly, amusing and intimidating performance. So good is he that you kind of wish the whole movie centered around him, although Wilde's fragile not-so-bad girl and Hunnam make for a charismatic pair of conflicted lovers. And, of course, the old pros like Spacek and Kristofferson can hold their own amid any bevy of young actors; both do what they do best at this stage, with Spacek playing sympathetic and understanding and Kristofferson at his gruff, bullheaded best.
|Extra Tidbit:||DEADFALL comes out on December 7th; it is currently available On Demand.|