Review: No Good Deed
PLOT: When her husband is out of town, a mother and her two children are faced with a possibly deadly escaped convict. Once she begins to realize how dangerous he is, she must find a way to protect her children… And hit the stranger on the head as often as possible.
REVIEW: What the hell happened with NO GOOD DEED? How could a major theatrical release starring the incredibly talented Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson be so awful? This stinker of a flick, directed by Sam Miller and written by Aimee Lagos, is referred to as a thriller. The problem is there is not a thing thrilling about this pathetic and weak attempt at creating any sort of suspense or tension. With dumb characters and one of the worst “plot twists” in recent memory, it is hard to imagine why both Elba and Henson are not only starring in this, but given executive producer credits. What a disappointing waste of amazing actors.
NO GOOD DEED is the story of Colin (Elba), an unbalanced murderer, who is trying to get out on parole. When the parole board refuses to give him a chance, he is able to escape from a couple of nitwit guards, and return to the love of his life, even if she let him rot in prison. When he finds out that the little vixen is sleeping with somebody else, he does what any psycho would do, and it’s not nice. After a handful of bad deeds, he finds himself at the doorstep of a lonely wife and mother named Terri (Henson). Being all sly and charming he convinces her to let him into her house and you know that’s not good news. Once he gets inside, we spend the next hour or so waiting to see if he goes completely bonkers and tries to kill everybody he can get his hands on.
One of the many problems with NO GOOD DEED is the straight-to-DVD look of the film. Miller is limited to only a small handful of set-pieces, and frankly you can only watch Terri hit Colin on the head and have him get up repeatedly so many times without summoning a yawn or two. The chase sequences are so poorly executed that you can see the thriller clichés coming well before they arrive. There is not one moment of actual suspense that works. All of it borrowed from better films that manage to provoke a least a minimum sense of urgency. The only thing urgent here is how badly I wanted this admittedly short movie to end.
As Terri, Henson tries her best, yet can’t bring anything real to this cookie cutter character. Her intelligence level is all over the map, and her two children in the film seem to be little more than props. This character is all over the place when it comes to motivation and whether she is going to fight back, or just try and play nice with the obnoxious psychopath. At one point, after he forces her to change clothes for no real reason, she develops a bizarre sense of intensity which is completely gone by the next sequence. As great an actress she is, nobody could have made this work.
As far as Mr. Elba is concerned, just like his co-star, he really struggles to bring anything he can to the role. There is a spark that he and Henson certainly could have been able to bring had the script been good. It’s a shame as this story follows the all too obvious route with not a single original thing to say. They even offer up the “best friend” played by Leslie Bibb who is completely wasted here. She portrays the flirty gal pal who soon realizes something is up with the stranger who is “waiting for a tow truck.” She shares an absurd scene with Elba that is only there to move the lame plot forward in the worst kind of way. All the talent involved are far too good to be involved in this.
With a thin plot, a preposterous twist, and ludicrously dumb characters, there is no good to be found in NO GOOD DEED. That’s not to say that the film’s stars don’t try their hardest to make it work, but even they feel like they’ve lost interest in this nothing of a story. It's even worse for the bland side characters that are only there to get to the next plot point. How this was made with such exceptional actors and without ending up on late night cable is beyond my comprehension. If there is any distinction that this may have, it might simply be that it is one of the worst theatrically released films of the year.