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'Deadfall' has great characters

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POSTED: March 29, 2013 3:00 p.m.

“Deadfall” is a satisfying new crime thriller available on home video and digital download. It easily fits the neo-noir genre and will be a good diversion for fans of films like “Fargo,” “Killshot” and “True Grit ” or the FX series “Justified.”
When the film opens, we are in the getaway car with siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde), who are on the run to Canada after knocking over a casino. The near-whiteout conditions and a fatally timed deer literally derail them. When a state trooper pulls over to assist, Addison kills him and the pair split up to cross the border separately, hoping for better chances.
Addison leaves a trail of bodies in his wake, interacting with a series of interesting locals. Meanwhile, Liza fares much better, catching a ride with Jay (“Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam). When Liza determines that Jay’s parents have a cabin on the border, she calls her brother and leaves him a message to meet her there, then proceeds to manipulate Jay into taking her there as well.
The film effortlessly tells interweaving stories. For instance, Jay is an ex-con on his first day of freedom. He’s a former Olympic boxer and, of course, has a heart of gold despite having his own reasons for avoiding law enforcement.
His parents (Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson) are just as interesting as any other of the flawed, often-endearing characters — Addison aside, because his ruthlessness is downright wicked.
Also at play is “House of Cards” actress Kate Mara as Hannah, a smart and determined sheriff’s deputy who gets absolutely no respect from her sheriff father (Treat Williams).
As you can imagine, all the players converge at Jay’s parents’ house in an intense climax — and on Thanksgiving night, too.
Though one could say the ending was formulaic and certainly isn’t a setup we haven’t seen before, there’s a spark to this film that’s present even in its slower parts. I was impressed by the sheer number of recognizable actors, their commitment to their parts, and the well-developed nature of each character. Probably the only background we don’t fully understand is Addison’s, as he rumbles through everyone else’s lives.
Wilde, who is cast all too frequently just for her sultry blue eyes, puts out a noteworthy performance as a woman who is at once helpless and in complete control. It’s a cliché she owns and manages to refresh. At the same time, you have to like Hunnam, whose charm is palpable.
The best part of the film for me was the small supporting role of Hannah. She’s the only character who is completely good, and I’m very excited that the younger sister of actress Rooney Mara is getting more and more time on screen.
I’m a fan! But beware — there’s gritty violence and sensuality ahead.

McBrayer’s column appears weekly in the Courier. She did do a video version of her review this week.

 

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