After a casino heist and a car crash, siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) part ways; Liza meets up with former boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam) while Addison continues cross country in an attempt to escape capture.
Deadfall is a crime drama in the vein of Fargo and A Simple Plan. It is not a dark comedy, but it is a very dark film about lives crossing in the aftermath of a crime. It is a very well made film with extremely strong performances by the entire cast. This is certainly not one of those films you will be watching over and over again, though, despite the amazing performances.
The film begins as Addison, Liza, and their driver get in a car crash. The driver is killed and when a police officer stops to help, Addison kills him. The older brother, he decides to take the money and head cross country to evade capture. Since no one knew that Liza was involved in the heist, he tells her to head down the road and she’d be picked up. They decide to meet up in Canada. Along the way, Liza meets Jay, who has just been released from prison for throwing boxing match. They develop a relationship while Addison works his way cross country heading for a showdown in Jay’s parents home (Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek) on Thanksgiving day.
Deadfall is not a great movie. In all honesty, I don’t usually like this kind of dark drama. What makes this film stand out, though, are the performances from the entire cast. Of course, you expect great performances from Sissy Spacek (Carrie, Coal Miner’s Daughter) and Kris Kristofferson (Blade, Heaven’s Gate), but the biggest surprise came from Olivia Wilde. Here she proves she is much more than a pretty face, playing the abused daughter and sister to Addison. She clearly has feelings towards her brother; more than sibling feelings. She is enamored with him. It makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.
Another revelation is Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy). He plays a former Olympic boxer who took a fall and went to prison. When he confronts his old trainer, he thinks he kills him. He goes on the run and then meets Liza. He is terrified of going back to prison and he is terrified of how he let his father down by taking a fall. He is a sympathetic character who only wants to do the right thing, even though he has made mistakes in the past.
Eric Bana (Troy, Hulk) has also proven himself previously. What he does here, though, makes me question why he is not a superstar. He is a consummate professional and brings the tattered soul of Addison to life. He is a man who loves his sister and is determined to protect her, while struggling with the feelings he shouldn’t have for her. He also struggles with his past and his abusive father, who he killed. He is not a good man, but he has moments of goodness sprinkled in his broken soul.
The biggest problem with the film is the story. It is actually a pretty basic, by the numbers, thriller. You can see from the beginning where it is going to go. There really are no surprises in store here.
With a lackluster story, but brilliant performance, Deadfall is a hard film to recommend. It is not going to give you the warm fuzzies after watching it, but the performances are something to behold. If you are looking for a dark, by the numbers thriller with stunning performances and gorgeous cinematography, you just may dig this.
**/12 out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- The film is set in Michigan, near Detroit. They mention that they rob a Native American casino, of which there are quite a few in Michigan.