No Good Deed
Derivative thriller starring, and squandering the talented Idris Elba and Taraji P Henson
A leaden entry in the home invasion stakes, No Good Deed's box office success in the US is presumably due to a lack of comparable cinematic competition, as there's nothing to distinguish TV director Sam Miller's pedestrian effort from scores of straight-to-download thrillers.
Taraji P Henson (Oscar-nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) plays Terri Granger, a young mother whose husband Jeffrey (Henry Simmons) uses the improbably casual excuse of a golfing weekend to leave her home alone as a ferocious storm descends on their isolated home near Atlanta. At the same time, Colin Evans (Idris Elba) fails to sweet-talk prison officials into awarding him parole from his five-year manslaughter term, prompting his rapid escape from incarceration. Pausing to murder his unfaithful fiancée, Colin ends up writing off his car and descends on Terri's house for shelter. At first she welcomes the charming stranger into her nest, but as the conditions outside deteriorate, Colin's violent inclinations become more clear.
Miller has form directing Elba from his work on the TV series Luther, but No Good Deed sinks so heavily into the mire of cliché that the actors have little chance to impress. A key scene in which Colin attempts to persuade Terri of his innocence is interrupted by so many sledgehammer smash-cuts to his previous violent acts that the effect is laughably melodramatic. Supporting characters such as white trash neighbour Meg (Leslie Bibb) are amateurishly drawn; her awkward display of her toned abdominal muscles clumsily marks her out as prey, given Colin's tendency towards sexual violence.
No Good Deed eventually spits out an interesting twist, but by then it's too late to rescue this overheated pile of left-overs. Elba deserves more starring vehicles, but his choice this time around is simply no good at all.
Selected release from Fri 21 Nov.