Siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) find themselves stranded in the snowy middle of nowhere after their car strikes a dear and goes crashing down the side of a hill. They can’t get help from the police as they’ve just pulled a heist at the local tribal casino and are now carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars as they make their way towards the Canadian border.
I missed Deadfall when it played theatrically, skipping the press screening for the film for no particular good reason that I can recall. A mistake on my part, for while the movie isn’t be any means a classic Stefan Ruzowitzky’s (The Counterfeiters, Anatomy) English language debut is still solid B-grade noir I thoroughly enjoyed.
It admittedly gets pointlessly convoluted at times, screenwriter Zach Dean’s musings on familial estrangement a tad on the heavy-handed side. Not only do you have Addison and Liza, there’s also former boxer (and Olympic Silver Medalist) Jay (Charlie Hunnam), fresh out of prison for helping fix a fight on his way home to see his parents June (Sissy Spacek) and Chet (Kris Kristofferson), the former thrilled to see her son on Thanksgiving while the latter looks at him as something of a disappointment.
But that’s not all. There’s also Hanna (Kate Mara), a young police deputy working under the thumb of her belligerent father Sheriff Becker (Treat Williams) who dreams of escaping this small town purgatory and proving her law enforcement worth by applying to the FBI. She’s good friends with Chet and his family, her invite to Thanksgiving Dinner one she’s thankful for as it means she’ll likely not have to spend the night across the table from her judgmental dad.
Of course they are all going to have to run into one another, and equally of course one way or another this crossing of paths will allow each familial set to realize truths about one another they’ve until now refused to look at in any sort of detail. And yet, the characters by and large (Sheriff Becker sadly being a notable exception) richly three-dimensional, making each person’s revelation far more authentic and believable than it has any right to be. By the time the Thanksgiving table finale rolls around I was more than curious to see how Addison would deal with Liza’s blossoming love for another, if Jay would forgive and apologize to his father (and vice-versa) and whether or not Hanna could become the kind of police officer her own dad could be proud of.
On top of that, there are some great little asides, like Addison becoming the angelic hero to a put-upon family under siege from an abusive male or Jay and Liza connecting in a rundown bar snowed in thanks to unmerciful blizzard. Best of all are the quiet moments between Spacek and Kristofferson, the seasoned pair playing so well off one another the effect upon me as I was watching their scenes bordered on bliss.
Best of all, though, is Bana. This is the kind of freewheeling performance the Aussie used to be known for but in the majority of his Hollywood offerings hasn’t been allowed the freedom to engage in. While broad and larger-than-life the actor seldom, if ever, goes over the top, keeping things dangerously controlled helping craft an omnipresent sense of dread and doom that never, ever disappears.
Deadfall could have been better, and I doubt it is a movie I’m going to be talking about much too long after I’ve written this review, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it any bit less than I did. Ruzowitzky shows a flair and style evident in his previous pictures and one that should suit him well as he continues to bounce between more high-minded films like his Academy Award-winner The Counterfeiters and B-grade genre mash-ups like this one. Make no mistake, this movie is extremely entertaining, and I for one wouldn’t scoff at a thing like that one single solitary little bit.
Deadfall is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.35:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and features optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Snow & Western (2:42)
· Family (2:48)
· Production Interviews (9:44)
· Extended Interview with Stefan Ruzowitzky (10:34)
· Behind the Scenes Footage (8:09)
· Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12)
The extended interview with Ruzowitzky is easily the best extra here, the director more than happy to go into what drew him to the film and the sensibilities that allow him to toggle between high-minded Oscar-winning fair like The Counterfeiters and B-grade genre awesomeness like the frigid horror-thriller Anatomy. The two featurettes are too brief to resonate fully, while the production interviews with Bana and Wilde are strictly surface level and nothing more. The raw behind-the-scenes footage is interesting, however, and while I doubt I’d ever look at it a second time this insight into the film’s cold weather production was still quite nice all the same.
Deadfall is a down-and-dirty little snow-covered noir filled with solid performances and anchored by a showy – but not show-offy – star turn by Bana that’s deserves to be cherished. While not covering new territory, and while some of the plot threads don’t ultimately lead anywhere of note, overall Ruzowitzky’s English language debut has a ton going for it, making it incredibly easy to recommend especially to genre fans who like their B-thrillers nasty but still intelligent.