Happy Thanksgiving to all from “Deadfall.”
That’s “Deadfall,” the movie that lays before the viewer a bountiful feast of violent death. Death by car crash, death by shotgun blast, death by pistol shot, death by rifle round. Death by beating and barbed wire — Owie! — and blade to the gizzard.
Set on Turkey Day and the day before in dead-of-winter Michigan, “Deadfall” serves up death deeply chilled, with a heaping helping of blizzard-driven snow on top.
It’s sort of like “Fargo,” only with a higher body count and without the wood chipper.
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Meting out most of the mayhem is Eric Bana. Playing a robber with a serious serial- killer streak, he politely begs the pardon of his first victim before blowing the poor fellow to kingdom come, and later presents himself as a kindly and well-intentioned angel of death to a terrified family. Add to that the fact that the character harbors barely sublimated incestuous feelings for his sister (Olivia Wilde), a sexy temptress who’s his partner in crime, and you’ve got a truly lovely individual.
Ah, but they’re all lovely individuals in “Deadfall,” peachy people with big-time family issues. Abusive father figures abound. See a satanic stepfather terrorize his wife and her small children. Hear a domineering dad heap sexist verbal abuse on his grown-up daughter.
Then there’s the sullen son (Charlie Hunnam), who resents the heck out of his grouchy dad (Kris Kristofferson), a former lawman whose rigid moral code somehow pushed the rebellious boy into lawless behavior that landed the lad in the slammer. Recently released from custody, the young fellow quickly finds himself on the run from the authorities again and soon is entangled in the wiles of the killer’s sexy sis. At the end, everyone meets up for the most miserable Thanksgiving dinner ever.
The picture does have good actors in it, particularly Sissy Spacek who plays the Hunnam character’s mom (she’s one of the few sympathetic characters in the picture), and Bana, whose killer is queasily menacing.
But Zach Dean’s drearily downbeat screenplay, Stefan Ruzowitzky’s unremarkable direction, the deep-frozen production design of Paul Denham Austerberry and the bleak cinematography of Shane Hurlbut combine to make “Deadfall” a holiday turkey that’s tough to choke down.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org