December 6, 2012
'Deadfall' soaked in creepy
By Liz Braun, QMI Agency
How about a little southern gothic in the frozen north?
Deadfall is an overwrought crime drama created around an unlikely story, but it still packs a wallop. Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde star as Addison and Liza, a brother and sister team of grifters from a twisted family background in Alabama. The incest vibe between them sets the tone for the whole movie: creepy. Deadfall is soaked in creepy, larded with violence and filled with people in pain. Cue the dread.
The movie begins with a car accident that puts our brother and sister team off their game. They've just robbed a casino in upstate Michigan and they're trying to get to the Canadian border, but now they'll have to split up and try to make that trip on foot. There's a blizzard brewing and a few dead bodies in their immediate past that suggest they'd better hurry.
Liza gets picked up by Jay (Charlie Hunnam), a boxer who's just out of prison. He also has family issues, as he and his father are estranged. Jay has had an incident with his old manager in Detroit, so he's on the run to his parents' place in the country. His parents (played by Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek) are good people. It's just Jay's bad luck that he picks Liza up on a snowy back road.
Meanwhile, Addison is busy leaving a pile of bodies in the Michigan forest while he tries to get closer to the Canadian border. The local cops are after him; Treat Williams is the Sheriff, and Kate Mara plays his daughter and one of his officers. Sheriff Dad treats his daughter with contempt, so that's yet another family with issues.
As Addison and Liza have agreed to meet up close to the border, you know that the lives of all these characters will eventually intersect -- the cops, the robbers and the family of that misguided boxer.
There's plenty of dark psychological material in Deadfall and many a noir flourish, and there's also a lot of action in the form of point-blank shootings and violent fights. Deadfall will hold your interest, even though most of the characters are underdeveloped and some of the events stretch belief. At times, the writing makes this thing play like a TV movie of week. What luck that a terrific cast makes up for undernourished storytelling.