Review: DEADFALL (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review: DEADFALL (2012)


RATING: 2/5

Best known for the crime drama THE COUNTERFEITERS which won the foreign-language Oscar in 2008, Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky's DEADFALL starts with a bang. Following from the aftermath of a casino heist, criminal siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde), speeding their car along the slippery road of northern Michigan snowdrift. Suddenly an accident happens out of nowhere, which sends their car flipped into the air (which is brilliantly shot from inside of the car) and crashes down the snow-covered land, and ends up killing their driver. While Liza is trying to retrieve all the heist money scattered all over the place, a state trooper shows up. Addison wastes no time to approach the state trooper and shoots him to death. So far, so good. No doubt Ruzowitzky knows a lot of camera placements and staging a knockout action sequence. But what follows next is a bloated thriller that drags a lot throughout the course of its 95-minute duration.

Soon after the intense opening scene, Addison decides that he and Liza must split up as they make their way through the cold wilderness in which both of their goals are to reconnect again near the Canadian border.

Enter former Olympic silver-medalist boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), who is fresh out of prison and finds himself already in deep trouble after critically injured his ex-trainer. He flees the scene and drives as far as he can to avoid getting arrested by the police. En route to Thanksgiving dinner at the home of his parents, June (Sissy Spacek) and Chet (Kris Kristofferson), he meets Liza and kind enough to give her a lift. Both of them end up spending the night at a motel, which is needless to say, they fall for each other.

Meanwhile, Addison seeks refuge in a small hunting cabin after killing an abusive husband and helps the surviving family.

There's more: Sheriff Becker (Treat Williams) is ordering a manhunt against Addison and Liza. Except for his deputy daughter, Hanna (Kate Mara), in which he shuts her out of the manhunt because he doesn't like her at all.

With numerous plot threads here and there, it's understandable that Ruzowitzky and first-time screenwriter Zach Dean tries hard to deliver something more meaty than just a regular cat-and-mouse thriller. Somewhere in between, there's a modern Western genre with a dash of noir at play (think FARGO or even A SIMPLE PLAN). That's not all, there's an attempt of complex family drama as well. Such genre mishmash can be a good thing if handle with care. But that's hardly the case in this movie. Zach Dean's screenplay may have been ambitious but his writing is awfully clunky.

As for Ruzowitzky, his direction is terribly haphazard and he only delivers in certain portions. Most of the scenes are lazily constructed, and to make things worst, the much-awaited payoff is disappointingly bland and predictable.

Apart from the exciting opening scene, the cast here are quite impressive. Eric Bana is intense as the cold-blooded villain, while Olivia Wilde is certainly gorgeous enough to look at. Charlie Hunnam fits the role as the brooding fugitive and Kate Mara is likeable as a young deputy. Both veterans Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson and Treat Williams play their respective roles adequate enough.

Technical credits are overall above-average, particularly with Shane Hurlbut's perfectly atmospheric cinematography for the snowbound landscapes (Quebec locations convincingly stand in for Michigan's Upper Peninsula).

DEADFALL is one huge, missed opportunity. It could have been a great crime drama if not for its wobbly execution.


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