Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Movie review: Deadfall

Between Deadfall and (the much better) Hanna, I bet Eric Bana is tired of movies set in snowy places.

I don't recall how I heard about this movie. As far as I can tell it did not play in theaters. I wanted to see it because it stars Eric Bana, an actor I admire. Then I learned it was directed by the same person that directed "The Counterfeiters," a great drama set in a concentration camp.

Although overall I thought it was middling, it did have some strong moments. I liked the fight scene between Bana and the old Native he finds on the road. I liked the other main character, the boxer, and his earnestness. I liked the attempt at giving each character an arch, even though I don't feel like it came together as a satisfying whole.

The least of the storylines is the female cop looked down on by her boss/father and the others in the department. Undoubtedly sexism exists in police work (as it does in any other work, but especially of those male-dominated), but every character is just a whole hog sexists. She can do no wrong, they can do no right. It just felt clumsy and easy to make her such a victim.

The next least is the other female character, Bana's sister, who is a crook with a heart of gold. Bad parenting, you see. I like that she develops feelings for the boxer character, and wishes to spare him the fury of her brother, but the scenes where she exorcises her demons just ring false. She unpacks her hearts with words and they don't feel sincere. We are less invested in her than other characters, by mere virtue of the way movies work. So to hear her backstory is inherently less interesting than that of our lead(s). Also, we get two sex scenes with her set to two pop songs. One would have sufficed.

The four main characters are given enough screen time that I would not say this is any one person's story. But if it's anyone's, it's the boxer's. One because we are rooting for him to move beyond the mistakes of the past. We fear this girl is going to lead him down another path. But he really isn't given much to do besides try to get home for Thanksgiving. So if he is our protagonist, we don't spend enough time with him, or have much shared hope with him, beyond a generic hope he doesn't go back to jail. And his whole fleeing what he thinks is a murder is a plot hole -- he didn't check the pulse of the guy he knocked out?

Bana isn't the hero -- we learn that early on when he shoots a cop. We are not rooting for his success. And the unseemly attraction for his sister feels a little bit like pop psychology. I don't buy it.  And although the script tries to humanize him, in the way he murders a spouse abuser, and how he promises not to hurt the boxer's family, it comes at an expense of credibility. Rather than the friendly chat he has with the boxer's mom, down the barrel of a gun, I think it's more believable he ties her to a chair and hides her away while he finishes his trek across the border.

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