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No Good Deed (2014)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/6/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/1/2015
Unless we are speaking of a completed unexpected diamond-in-the-rough, I would say that it's rare for us to go into a movie without some sort of expectations. This can often hinge on the actors involved. If we've seen a performer in a certain caliber of production, we may expect all of their future projects to have the same kind of quality. Is it fair for us to place this kind of pressure on the individuals? (I don't know about the ethical implications of all of this, but if I'm paying to see something, I want it to be good.) Idris Elba has always come across to me as a classy person who wants to play unique roles. So why is he in something as pedestrian as No Good Deed?
No Good Deed introduces us to Colin (Idris Elba), a man who is serving a prison sentence of manslaughter, as he killed a man during a bar fight. Prior to that, he had a history of sociopathic behavior. Having done well in prison, Colin is up for parole and he feels confident about getting out. However, he parole is denied. Infuriated, Colin attacks the guards transporting him back to prison and escapes. He visits his ex-girlfriend (Kate del Castillo) and confronts her. Following this, he wrecks his truck on a rainy road. He goes to the nearest house, where Terry (Taraji P. Henson) is home with her children. She takes pity on Colin, as his head is bleeding and invites him inside. At first, he is a perfect gentleman, but the real Colin begins to bubble to the surface and as Terry becomes more suspicious, Colin comes closer to releasing his inner rage.
Here's the good news: No Good Deed has a twist at the end which is mildly interesting and isn't all that easy to see coming. I can only imagine that the producers read Aimee Lagos' script and came away impressed by that twist and feeling that it would make a good movie. Now for the bad news: the 75 or so minutes before that are incredibly dull, unoriginal, and hard to swallow.
The opening of No Good Deed shows some promise. We meet Colin and immediately see that he's charismatic. But, his confidence is quickly shattered as a member of the parole board breaks down his pattern of preying on others. From there, the movie wants to put a different twist on the home invasion genre, but turning that "invasion" into an invitation. However, this is where the movie will lose most viewers. In the extra features included here, we are told that as Colin is different from Terry's husband, she feels enticed to invite him in, as she's attracted to those differences. Allow me to point out that a woman wrote this screenplay which makes women, even those who are lawyers like Terry, look rather stupid and unable to control their urges. Once Colin in in the house, as he waits for a tow truck which will never come, the movie truly begins to drag. One can tell that it's attempting to create tension, but there's not any. We know that at some point, Colin is going to go nuts and try to hurt Terry, but the whole thing is approached with such a non-chalant attitude that it's difficult to get involved. Of course, once the action starts, Terry became yet another would-be heroine who isn't smart enough to ensure that her attacker is actually unconscious.
Even at a sparse 84-minutes, No Good Deed wears out its welcome very quickly. The movie's worst crime, besides the fact that it's boring, is that it wastes a good cast. Elba does his best to be menacing here, but the funny thing is that he was much more intimidating when he was coming down on Jim on The Office. Henson is good in her role, and she brings a healthy does of reality to the part, which only makes it more unbelievable when Terry does something stupid. Leslie Bibb has a glorified cameo in the movie, but she is essentially wasted. As noted above, the twist in the finale is OK, but it would have worked much better as the closer of a short film. As it stands, No Good Deed is an unwelcome guest which brings with it a healthy does of cliches which we've seen before and yet another "woman in peril" movie. Trust me, if No Good Deed comes a'knocking, act like you're not home.
No Good Deed deserved to remain in jail on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 29 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no obvious grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright, despite the fact that most of the movie takes place at night. The image is never soft, so the level of detail is good, and the depth works well, especially the exterior shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround effects work well during the second half of the film, where we can hear noises from various parts of the house. The rainstorm fills the rear speakers and the thunders provides some subwoofer effects.
The No Good Deed Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Making a Thriller" (12 minutes) is a general behind-the-scenes featurette which offers comments from the cast and the creative team. While we do get some on-set footage, this is basically filled with discussions of the story and the actors. There is also a look at the shooting of the film. "The Thrill of a Good Fight" (6 minutes) examines the physical nature of the film and takes us on-set to see the stunts being rehearsed and executed. "Good Samaritan" (4 minutes) offers comments from Screenwriter Aimee Lagos who talks about the story and her take on the film's themes.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long