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No Good Deed

D: Sam Miller / 84m

Cast: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Henry Simmons, Mirage Moonschein

Denied parole after serving five years for manslaughter, Colin Evans (Elba) makes his escape from a prison transport vehicle, killing a guard and the driver in the process.

In Atlanta, Terri Granger (Henson) is coping with the demands of a baby and young daughter Ryan (Moonschein). When her husband, Jeffrey (Simmons), comes home early from work and announces he has to leave right away to visit his father, Terri worries about the way he’s behaving (even though he reassures her that he loves her). Her friend, Meg (Bibb), suggests they have a girls night, to which she agrees. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Atlanta, Evans is stalking the woman who was his fiancée, Alexis (del Castillo), before he went to prison. He confronts her at her home with evidence that she’s seeing someone else; when she admits to it, Evans kills her.

With a violent storm raging, Evans crashes his car and seeks help at Terri’s house. He’s respectful and agreeable but when he calls for a tow truck and is told he could have a long wait due to the storm, Terri invites him in and gives him some dry clothes to change into. He mentions that his fiancée has been cheating on him; Terri is sympathetic (if a little unnerved by his telling her this so quickly). Meg arrives with wine and is clearly attracted to Terri’s guest. During a shared smoke break, Evans tries to get Meg to question Terri’s honesty, but when she doesn’t he kills her too. Evans tells Terri that Meg has left but Terri sees Meg’s umbrella is still there; she also discovers that the phone line has been cut. Realising that Evans is dangerous she attempts to leave with her children, but the escaped convict has other ideas.

No Good Deed - scene

A movie that all involved clearly took part in for the pay cheques, No Good Deed should be rechristened No Good Movie. Turgid and lacking in genuine excitement, the movie is a home invasion thriller that defies belief from the moment Evans is referred to as a “malignant narcissist” to one of the final scenes where multiple injuries leave Terri without a mark on her. It’s dull, it’s unimaginative, it’s repetitive, and a complete waste of its stars’ time and efforts. In fact, it’s so bad that a nadir of sorts is reached when Henson has to show fear and desperation to a police officer and succeeds only in looking as if she’s desperate for the toilet.

With Terri alternating between victim and victor (and sometimes in the same scene), and with Elba showing very little sign of the acting talent we know he has, the movie sputters its way through to one of those “Hollywood” showdowns where the attacks keep coming despite painful blows, stabbings, and the kind of injuries that would have ordinary people calling for an ambulance before the first flush of pain fully registered. It’s also a drab movie to watch, and is directed with an eye for awkward framing by Miller who probably got the job off the back of directing Elba in several episodes of the BBC series Luther. But here his lack of moviemaking experience shows and he fails to make much out of Aimee Lagos’s awful, awful script.

Rating: 3/10 – unsurprisingly pushed back for theatrical release on three occasions, No Good Deed squanders any good will by continually insulting the audience’s intelligence; poorly executed and lacking in energy, the movie seems content to undermine itself at every turn.