Movie review: ‘No Good Deed’ |

Movie review: ‘No Good Deed’

This image released by Screen Gems Films shows Idris Elba in a scene from "No Good Deed."
AP | Sony Screen Gems

No Good Deed

*1/2 (C)

Directed by Sam Miller

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Idris Elba, Henry Simmons, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo

Rated PG-13, Thriller, 84 minutes

This home invasion story uses violent criminal Colin (Idris Elba) as a catalyst to showcase the stupidity of everyone he encounters.

On the eve of his parole hearing five years into a five-to-15 year sentence for killing a man in a bar fight, we are informed that Colin is also the main suspect in the abduction, rape and murder of five women. However, lacking enough evidence to prove Colin’s guilt, the district attorney has not charged him with these crimes.

At his parole board hearing, Colin persuasively tells of his rehabilitation, offering as evidence the prison literacy program he founded during his incarceration. However, one board member convincingly argues Colin has malignant narcissism, prompting the board to deny his release.

Transported back to the prison along a series of desolate country roads, it isn’t a question of if, but when Colin will escape his one disinterested guard and the van’s aging, if sympathetic, driver.

The film wastes no time using the escape to clarify Colin’s ruthlessness, and, in case there was any doubt, it tracks him to the home of his ex-girlfriend Alexis (Kate Del Castillo), where Colin’s behavior further deteriorates.

Meanwhile, single mom Terry (Taraji P. Henson) lives unhappily in her remote McMansion. Terry, a former prosecutor turned stay-at-home mom, feels neglected by her workaholic attorney husband, Jeffrey (Henry Simmons). With a baby still on her hip and a young daughter in tow, Terry resents her husband’s leaving to take a weekend golfing trip with his dad. Terry’s best friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) insists Terry must demand Jeffrey’s attention and emotional support, but it’s clear that Terry loves her husband and doesn’t wish to rock the marital boat.

Once Jeffrey leaves Colin appears on Terry’s doorstep claiming he has wrecked his car and, having left his cell phone at home, needs to borrow Terry’s phone to call for help. Terry, who used to prosecute crimes against women as a district attorney, nevertheless lets the stranger into her home, seemingly giving him the run of the place.

Elba’s rugged physique and natural charms enhance his characterization, but his psyche remains a mystery since the screenwriters are unclear about whether Colin is cool and calculating or driven to violence by uncontrollable desires.

Essentially an exercise in futility, this film never presents any character operating at his or her highest level, and we all suffer for it. One example is when, while still pretending to be friendly, Colin meets single Meg, Terry’s best friend who arrives for a visit. Meg throws herself at Colin, then, suspicious because he appears to be more interested in Terry, Meg accuses him of carrying on a covert affair with her friend. Soon finding herself in Colin’s control, Terry eventually musters the strength to fight back, but repeatedly fails to do so effectively.

The film’s final twist further illustrates Terry’s refusal to deal with the obvious. In terms of movie crimes, stupidity is right up there with evil. Therefore, no character ought to survive this terminally bad screenplay.

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