MRR Movie Review: Deadfall

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Siblings Addison and Liza are on the run with the stolen loot from a casino job gone horribly wrong. Meanwhile, troubled ex-boxer Jay heads for Thanksgiving dinner with his parents, June and retired sheriff Chet. What will happen when their worlds collide in a twist of fate?
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Movie Review: "Deadfall"

-- Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: Dec. 7, 2012
Directed by: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Genre: Crime, Drama, and Thriller

"Deadfall" is the latest film by Oscar-winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky. It stars Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde as sibling robbers whose latest crime goes awry, forcing them to split up with a plan to reconvene once they've crossed the Canadian border. What starts out with an intriguing premise soon turns into an overwhelming story with too many plotlines and not enough time to give each one the attention it deserves. Ruzowitzky gives us a beautiful film with some strong performances and a story that starts out strong but falls apart under its own weight. Nevertheless, "Deadfall" is a solid, yet unspectacular, thriller.

The story begins with Addison (Bana) and Liza (Wilde) on the run after a successful casino robbery in Michigan. While in their getaway car, Addison gets into an accident, which leads to a cop showing up. Addison kills the officer, forcing the pair to separate while making their way to the border. While walking in the snow, Liza is picked up by Jay (Charlie Hunnam), a former boxer on the way to his parent's (Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek) home for Thanksgiving. Like Liza, Jay has a criminal past that he is trying to move away from. In the meantime, Addison stays with an abused wife and her child, which leads to an inevitable confrontation. A third plotline emerges when Hannah, a policewoman, stumbles onto one of the dead bodies left in Addison's wake.

Despite being released in only a handful of theaters, "Deadfall" isn't your run-of-the-mill low-budget film. Ruzowisky shoots it with the eye of a professional, making the audience feel the chill as its characters go about their lives in the frozen tundra of Michigan. Shot on location with real snow, there's a sense of eeriness in the cinematography that makes the film stand out. The sudden violence is unexpected, quick, and brutal, adding an uneasy feeling to the proceedings. All of the actors brought their best to this film.

Eric Bana continues his hot streak, adding to his recent spate of intriguing character roles. His intensity is on par with what he displayed in "Munich," "Star Trek," and "Hanna," adding a simmering tension to the film. His portrayal of Addison is fascinating as he moves from a genuinely dangerous psychotic to a protector of battered women and children. The revelation of this soft side allows the audience to root for Addison even though they know he is capable of evil.

Liz is brought to life through Olivia Wilde's harrowing portrayal. Her scenes with Jay show passion and longing for a life neither can truly have due to her relationship with Addison. Hints of their abusive pasts drive the fascination with these characters, making this one of Wilde's best roles yet.

Both Kristofferson and Spacek fit nicely into their roles as Jay's parents. Their sadness toward their son is evident, adding a hint of wariness to who Liz is and the kind of danger she might bring to their son. It's great to see two accomplished actors playing small roles in a film. By casting these two pros, Ruzowitzky adds a certain gravitas that might have been missing if others had played these roles.

For a thriller such as "Deadfall" to work, the characters must behave in ways that are believable. There is a certain act performed by one of the main characters towards the end of "Deadfall" that stands out in contrast to the rest of the film. It's such a random, jarring move that it almost derails the movie. Perhaps, if more time was allowed to express the motivations of this character, this scene could have saved the film, but unfortunately, it is misplaced.

Ultimately, "Deadfall" is a good film that could've been an amazing one. The premise is intriguing, the cast is top notch, and the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. A little more work in the editing room or another draft of the script could have made it better. Instead, viewers are left with a film that is nice to watch on a Friday night but will probably never be watched again after the initial viewing.

Rating: 3 out of 5