No Good Deed

Director: Sam Miller

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Idris Elba, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Henry Simmons, Frank Brennan, Kenny Alfonso

Rated: PG-13 (sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language)

An unstable escaped convict terrorizes a woman who is alone with her two children.

 

No Good Deed

By Matt Greene

A thriller movie’s number one job is to be thrilling. Someone must’ve told the makers of NGD that passionate yelling between well-dressed yuppies on top of melodramatic score swells can pass as thrilling. Instead of excitement and scares, NGD gives us artlessly directed stiffness that only manages to be shockingly unpleasant. It’s the kind of forgettable, mindless dreck that completely lacks identity or personality. Sure it’s mercifully short, but it’s even more mercilessly ugly. (WARNING: bad pun coming) All in all, No Good Deed has no good part.

Elba plays an escaped murderer who wreaks havoc on Henson’s family by tricking his way into their home. Lucky for Elba’s character, there’s not a single sharp knife in the drawer of characters he encounters. He uses his powers of clichéd dialogue and lazily-written coincidences to get whatever he wants, which is…unclear, to say the least. We know he’s a “bad guy”, but why? And what is his end goal? Motivations take a back seat in NGD, with the focus instead on predictable thriller beats, harlequin-novel style plotting, and a twist that is far from earned.

Elba and Henson are both formidable screen presences, and it would normally be a gift to see them work together. Unfortunately to call their NGD characters one-dimensional is giving them one too many dimensions, unless pure sociopath and complete moron are dimensions. Their characters are purely there to force a hackneyed and dangerous message: all men are evil. Go see Guardians or Turtles again, but do all you can to stay away from this mid-budget Lifetime Channel movie.

Rating: .5 out of 5 stars

 

No Good Deed

By Cole Schneider

I get to watch movies for free. What a great job! And then every once in a while I have to watch a movie that isn’t even worth my reduced price of admission. “No Good Deed” is that rare movie. The film follows an escaped convict–Jeffrey Dahmer is who we are supposed to be equating him to–who sets out to terrorize a lady whom he’s never met for reasons unbeknownst to the viewer. As the thriller unfolds, we finally learn why he is attacking her, but it was obvious well before the reveal and, worse, it still makes no sense as a motivation.

The character’s actions and motivations make no sense, we are given no context for what is happening, and there appears to be no point in the exercise beyond reminding women that men are all awful. It has to be one of the weakest screenplays of the year, but not all of its problems were pre-production. The score and the sound effects combine to produce an absolutely incoherent audio track for the film.

A more positive person might point to the acting: Idris Elba (T.V.’s “The Wire”, “Pacific Rim”)  is simply a force in everything he does and he is a properly intimidating antagonist here, while Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) musters up as strong a performance as imaginable with such weak material. When the credits rolled someone behind yelled, “Thank God it’s over.” Then everyone else (myself included) responded, “Yes. Thank God.”

Rating: .5 out of 5 stars

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