DVD Release Date: January 6, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: September 12, 2014
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language)
Run Time: 84 min.
Director: Sam Miller
Cast: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Frank Brennan, Kenny Alfonso, Kelly O’Neal
Considering how the Ray Rice scandal dominated the national headlines all week, the timing really couldn’t be worse for a thriller that’s chock full of sadistic violence against women. But No Good Deed is such a stinker that it probably wouldn't have made a lick of difference at the box office anyway.
Unfortunate coincidence aside, No Good Deed is the sort of low-rent revenge fantasy (think Lifetime made-for-TV movie with a bigger budget, a better cast and more explicit violence) that's never worth buying a ticket. Why two actors as talented and likeable as Idris Elba (Mandela) and Taraji P. Henson (Think Like a Man) would sign up for something so dreadful is anybody’s guess.
Like your average horror movie where you're practically screaming at the protagonist to not walk alone late at night, open the door for a perfect stranger, unlatch that door to the ominous storage shed, garage, well, you get the idea, a little common sense would've shut No Good Deed down before the opening credits rolled.
Let's just say that suspending your disbelief is a must. Yes, for whatever reason, the writers made sure every single woman tosses her usual feminine intuition to the wind once they encounter the elusive Colin Evans (Elba). In fact, she'll invite him into her home, pour him wine, flirt with him, bandage up the wounds he's inflicted on himself, and worse yet, she'll trust him before the inevitable happens.
Like the equally laughable Labor Day earlier this year where a kidnapping victim who should've known better basically falls in love with her attractive captor, No Good Deed is another great big disservice to womankind. Put an attractive-enough man in her path, and she'll melt like butter in five seconds or less. Gloria Steinem would be so proud.
In a brief courtroom scene before Colin escapes and starts hurting people again (he was in jail for a bar fight gone bad and maybe having something to do with the death of five other women), we're told that the smooth-talking criminal won't be granted parole because he's a narcissist on the level of Jeffrey Dahmer. Just in case you're curious, that's all the audience is offered in terms of character development or possible motivation for his actions.
No doubt, No Good Deed is plenty terrifying—especially because multiple smart women, including a lawyer who fights for victims of domestic violence, fall under the charming spell of a man so murderous. Unlike, say, Sleeping with the Enemy, A Perfect Murder or the forthcoming Gone Girl, there's no psychological menace, levels of nuance or sophistication in the storytelling of No Good Deed. And in the absence of unique ideas, filmmakers resort to a big, fat plot twist no one could've predicted.
Normally, a critic like myself would praise a storyline with an inherent sense of unpredictability. But with No Good Deed, everything is so out of left field and offensive that it's practically impossible to affirm it. It's all madness with no method and a pretty dim-witted cautionary tale about stranger danger.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):
- Language/Profanity: One f-bomb, plus a character stops short of saying a couple more. Several uses of g-d and a few milder profanities.
- Sex/Nudity: Extramarital affairs are referenced several times. A flirtatious woman is told to “behave.” There’s a scene where you’re sure Terri is going to be raped, but the attacker chooses to humiliate her instead by asking her to take off her top (we only see her back) while he leers at her breasts and tells her not to “flatter herself” when she thinks he’s going to hurt her. The attacker also strips down but the nudity is off-camera. We see him get dressed again in shadow (only his bare chest and upper body are shown clearly). A woman wears a very tight tank top with no bra underneath (we see her erect nipples).
- Violence: A convict escapes from his transport vehicle, fakes a nose bleed and winds up murdering the driver and his guard. The convict's ex-wife is savagely choked and repeatedly hit with a blunt object, even after she's already dead (various aspects of what happened is frequently shown in flashback). A woman is killed when she's hit in the head with a heavy metal shovel. Another woman is threatened, humiliated and attacked in many disturbing ways. There’s also a constant feeling of distress considering the aforementioned woman has two young children. A man is shot, stabbed, struck with a heavy object, gets sprayed with a fire extinguisher and gets into a nasty car accident. A police officer is shot and killed.
- Drugs/Alcohol Use: Social drinking and cigarette smoking.
Publication date: September 12, 2014