Susan Granger’s review of “Deadfall” (Magnolia Pictures)
Speeding into an oncoming Upper Michigan blizzard after pulling a casino heist, brother-and-sister Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are heading toward the Canadian border with sacks of cash when their car hits a deer and spins out of control. A state trooper happens along and psychotic, trigger-happy Addison shoots him, compounding the crime. So they split up and tramp north through the desolate, snow-laden wilderness separately, promising to meet up later.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, Jay (Charlie Hunnam), an ex-con/former Olympic boxer, accidentally bumps off his trainer en route to Thanksgiving dinner at the isolated farmhouse belonging to his parents (Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson). Along the way, Jay picks up half-frozen yet seductive Liza; when the roads are closed due to the storm, they spend a steamy night at a motel. Surreptitiously, Liza calls Addison, who has rescued an abused waif; she tells him Jay’s parents’ address, so he can join her there, not realizing that they’re being tracked on snowmobiles by Sheriff Becker (Treat Williams) and his deputy daughter Hannah (Kate Mara)…so no good can come from this whole escapade.
If the concept sounds familiar, it is…remember Ben Affleck/Charlize Theron in John Frankenheimer’s ill-fated “Reindeer Games” (2000)?
Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky (foreign language Oscar winner for “The Counterfeiters”), first-time screenwriter Zach Dean and cinematographer Shane Hurlbut concentrate far more on atmosphere than plot development, dialogue, and character delineation – except for the morose siblings’ obvious incestuous relationship – in this contrived caper. As a result, there’s lots of bloodshed and random violence that make little sense. Along the way, Addison not only loses a finger but also gets shot in the leg, neither of which seem to deter him much.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Deadfall” is a less-than-thrilling 4, as more than the Thanksgiving goose gets cooked.