No Good Deed: A Thriller without Thrills or Logic (Blu-ray)


The Film:

2014 played host to a number of films that were entirely uninspired, with many of them nabbing prime spots on my Worst Films of the Year list. Many of those ended up being horror films, but not one of them was a straight-up thriller. However, “No Good Deed” is here to fill that void, seemingly having had no thought put into it whatsoever. The story concerns an escaped convict, Colin (Idris Elba), who murders his cheating ex-girlfriend before experiencing a car accident in the middle of a storm. He makes his way to a nearby house where Terry (Taraji P. Henson) is taking care of her children, and whose husband just happens to be out of town for his father’s birthday. At first, she is reluctant to let him inside, but eventually she decides that she can’t leave him out in the rain while he supposedly waits for a tow truck. When a visiting friend of Terry’s arrives and becomes suspicious, Colin is forced to reveal his malevolent intentions, turning what had been a pleasant evening into a nightmare.

To list the multitude of problems associated with “No Good Deed” would take up the length of an essay, so let’s just take a look at its biggest issues. First, there’s no reason this film should have happened in the first place (i.e. plotholes). There are at least a few spots where it could have been brought to an early end if the characters had acted in a logical manner, but obviously the writer, Aimee Lagos, couldn’t allow that to happen, for then there wouldn’t be much of a film here (not that there is anyway). For instance, no intelligent person would allow a stranger into their home while alone with their children, regardless of whether there’s a storm happening or not. All you can really do is laugh at Lagos during the special features as she tries to say how most people would indeed let him in, which simply isn’t true. Most people would leave him on the porch and call the police first (there was a supposed accident anyway, so this would need to be done regardless).

The film’s other main issue lies in its complete lack of originality, and the fact that Lagos is depending on much of the film’s impact coming from a “twist” at the end. To be frank, the twist is merely the reveal of an affair that hardly counts as a twist at all. It’s amusing to look back on all the talk of how screenings of the film were canceled due to the studio being concerned about the “twist” being leaked out, when it seemed clear even back then that they were actually concerned about how awful the film was. The lack of originality plays a large part in that there’s nothing surprising here, nor is there anything to engage the audience. First we wait for the main plot to get set up, only to be bored silly by a middle act that consists of a lot of inane conversation, which does nothing but drag the film out. Finally, upon arriving at the third act, we are merely treated to an extremely sub-par thriller that holds no thrills at all.

It’s rather sad that the talents of Idris Elba (“Luther”) and Taraji P. Henson (Oscar nominee for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) are completely wasted here. However, not only did they agree to star in it, they also supported it even further by being executive producers on the project. Looking at their filmographies of late, it appears that both of them have been making several poor decisions recently, with “No Good Deed” being a prime example of their lack of judgment. It should have been clear to anyone reading this screenplay that this wouldn’t turn out well, but at least you don’t have to worry about reflecting on it for long, for it’s the kind of film that you’re likely to forget about even as it plays out on the screen. Such is the fate of any film where no effort is applied in the least.

Video/Audio:

“No Good Deed” arrives on Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer that appears a bit blurry at first during the opening credits, but once the film proper starts, you are treated to a nice, sharp picture throughout the presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is top-notch, giving you all sound elements at great levels and in fantastic quality. Overall, the film has been given excellent treatment that provides a great experience in both areas.

Special Features:

Making a Thriller: A brief and superficial 12-minute featurette that features the cast and crew talking about making the film. It’s almost worth watching just to have a good laugh when producer Will Packer says how well-written it is and how it became a “masterpiece” in his hands.

The Thrill of a Good Fight: A short and uninformative look at how the fights came together. Easily skippable.

Good Samaritan: A very brief featurette that mainly features writer Aimee Lagos talking about what people would do in such a situation. As mentioned in the main review, it too is worth a pretty good laugh to hear what she has to say.

Conclusion:

“No Good Deed” is one of the least inspired and laziest films of 2014, featuring a complete lack of originality and a waste of talent from Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. The film also suffers from some pretty gaping plotholes and a “twist” that falls completely flat in the final act. In short, there is nothing here to engage the audience, who are left bored stiff and unmoved by anything happening on the screen. In the end, all you can really do is be surprised by the total lack of judgment from all involved.

Score: 2/5

Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting Tuesday.

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