Deadfall lands in theaters with lots of promise. Olivia Wilde and Eric Bana portray a brother and sister duo, Liza and Addision, who successfully rob a Native American casino and have high hopes of making it to the Canadian border. The weather has other ideas.
After the elements cause their getaway car to crash in the wintry wonderland, they decide to split up and try to make it to the border. Bana splits the money and the two head into the woods. But, their story is about to collide with Jay's (Charlie Hunnam). He's just been released from jail after serving years for fixing a professional boxing match and immediately gets into trouble. What's a guy to do except head upstate and visit his parents (Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek) and by chance, run into Wilde's character in the process. If it sounds far-fetched, it is because it is.
Our Deadfall review must state that Movie Fanatic adores all the actors in this picture, but all the talent in the world cannot save this film from being a run-of-the-mill thriller. Director Stefan Ruzowitzky weaves a web of suspense that is compelling, but just misses somehow.
Perhaps it is too bloated with interwoven plotlines. When the siblings split up, it forces their characters to cross paths with others that in hindsight, seem like superfluous interactions that only convoluted things. When Liza is wondering around the blizzard-covered Middle American tundra and is rescued by Jay, the story spins into a direction that may please romantics, but does nothing except distract from what should have been a cerebral crime thriller.
Stressed family dynamics abound. Jay's relationship with his father is challenged at best, while the casino robbing siblings squabble over almost everything. And then there's the side-plot of Kate Mara and her local cop Hanna who is locking horns with her police chief father (again, a stellar is cast in Treat Williams). There are simply too many family dynamic rounds of drama for an audience to take while we're still trying to see how a cold-blooded thrill-fest plays out. Deadfall is at its heart a battle between people who see the right in the world and those who see nothing but wrong. It reaches its goal, but stumbles along the way.
There are aspects of the movie that are compelling. Screenwriter Zach Dean has a field day with a scene where all the actors are sitting around a single table and the tension could not be higher. Also, the cinematography and production design are effective on many fronts. The Deadfall trailer shows off the dense snow and wintry set that breathes a sense of desperation and race-against-time feel to the aspiring thriller. Then, there is the cast. Mara comes into her own while Williams turns in his best work in years. Wilde shows incredible growth in the conflicted sister-love interest role and Hunnam leaves Son of Anarchy behind, getting completely lost in the skin of a disgraced boxer.
But, this is Bana's movie and he as an actor, takes it by the horns and runs all over town with it.