Movie Review: 'Deadfall' (2012)

When a brother (Eric Bana) and sister (Olivia Wilde) who are on the run, part ways to avoid being caught, they head on a collision course towards a fateful Thanksgiving. One sibling finds a further fall down the rabbit hole and the other, a possible shot at redemption. 2012's “Deadfall” depicts characters that are on the outskirts of the mainstream.

Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) have a, how shall we say, close relationship. Nothing is shown that completely crosses the line. Instead, the film relies upon heavy implications. It is due to the taboo inference that the lead characters of “Deadfall” are distinctly grey and highly unconventional, in the sense of being typical protagonists.

This is a thriller that plods itself into the trenches of heavy snowfall, and the cinematography is effectively chill-inducing. Where it stumbles is in keeping relatively three narratives throughout the story, when only one of them is particularly interesting. Eric Bana’s Addison is riveting, and his battle for survival unfolds with rigorous vitality.

Meanwhile, in “Deadfall,” Olivia Wilde’s Liza finds companionship and more with Jay (Charlie Hunnam), her possible escape route for a second chance at a better life. Between the two siblings, one cannot help but feel that Liza is merely using whoever is willing to aid in her survival at the given moment she needs them to. Making her vastly unlikable and the investment in her story wanes as a result.

The cast of “Deadfall” is packed with a lot of talent, Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek, Kate Mara (“127 Hours”), and Treat Williams, along with those mentioned above, make for an exciting watch. The story they have to tell falls short of them. It is clunky, running full steam on some aspects with brilliant implementation and then falling terribly short at others.

The fault of the film is in making itself present with such promise. It looks and possesses all of the components to be extraordinary, and yet, for whatever reason, it isn’t. It is entertaining, just not on the level, one would go in anticipating.

The main reason to watch rests with the performance of Erica Bana (“Lone Survivor”), as the resolute, unwavering, and often diabolical criminal, Addison. Bana’s portrayal is beguiling as he carries himself with the essence of a gentleman and the conflicted personal politics of an outlaw. Everything down to his southern twang is accurately executed.

Olivia Wilde (“Rush”) gives a wide-eyed innocence to the feeble Liza and Charlie Hunnam puts his best foot forward as the emotionally tortured Jay. His and Wilde’s chemistry is palatable without being excessively enthralling.

“Deadfall” feels like it is on the verge of greatness that seems to elude it, as effectively as its lead characters evade the authorities. As it devolves in its second half, it heads down familiar, if not redundant, a territory that has been covered with better results in previous works.

It is a shame that it cannot quite make it because it feels like it could have been something exceptional. For a Thanksgiving movie pick that offers a little thrill factor to the cozy holiday, though, it works. Rating: 7/10

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