A brother and sister – Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) – rob an Indian casino on the even of Thanksgiving, but while trying to get away during a blizzard, their car crashes, their driver dies and Addison kills a police officer. The two split up in order to escape; Liza falls in with a former boxer who has just got out of prison, and Addison cuts a bloody dash across the snow white landscape as the pair try to outrun the police.
Deadfall is a film that has a lot of promise, but doesn’t live up to much of it. First of all, the cast is fantastic; Eric Bana has proven time and again that he is a great actor, Olivia Wilde is on the up and up, as is Kate Mara, fresh from her turn in Netflix’s wonderful House of Cards. Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson also show their faces. While each actor does what they can with what they are given, the dialogue and motivations they are given are so cheesy, laughable and at times, unbelievable, that it is difficult for the actors to make the audience believe in them.
Addison and Liza’s relationship is just a little too far over the line of incest, but never fully explored, the relationship between police chief Becker and his rookie daughter, Hanna (Kate Mara), is also uncomfortable and weirdly intimate and Jay and Liza fall for one another so quickly that the audience can’t help but think in the sequel (if there was to be one) there would be some serious issues for these characters to sort out. The only seemingly normal relationship throughout the film is between Jay’s parents – played by Spacek and Kristofferson, which seems warm and genuine.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky won the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2008 for his film The Counterfeiters, but there is none of that winning sparkle here. The dialogue is laughable and the hints at incest are more awkward than intriguing. The elements of noir films that Ruzowitzky tries to include fall flat, but the film does have the best snowmobile chase seen on the big screen in many a year.
It is painfully obvious that this is writer Zach Dean’s first screenplay as it is needlessly complicated, messy and unoriginal. It seems that elements of other films have been cobbled together here, with little reason and to no avail. And the dialogue… Did I mention the dialogue? Eugh.
Deadfall is a film with tons of potential and a great cast that is sadly dead on arrival thanks to its lacklustre direction, unintentionally comedic script and misuse of usually brilliant actors.