Family Fortunes: Deadfall

Family Fortunes: Deadfall

In the aftermath of a robbery the brother and sister team of Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are involved in a crash which leaves them stranded in the middle of a Northern Michigan blizzard.  This is Liza’s first heist but it is obvious that the ruthless Addison is a seasoned veteran.  It’s also obvious that his relationship with Liza is a bit on the unhealthy side, although any more hints of incestuous feelings are left hanging.  They decide, bizarrely—or rather the domineering Addison does—that they should split up and head north, even though they are on foot.  His confidence in both himself and little sister seems justified as, after the murder of a Native American, he is in possession of a snowmobile and Liza has been picked up, almost frozen, by Jay Mills (Charlie Hunnan). Now it’s understandable that he would save the girl’s life but why he stays with her when it becomes obvious that she’s not entirely playing with a full deck is beyond me.  I mean, she is undeniably attractive but there is also something screaming quite loudly Trouble!

Deadfall is a well-executed thriller.[/pullquote]Ah well, men being led by their dicks is hardly new; and of course he’s just out of prison. It’s not as if he isn’t without enough problems already, though.  He’s not only just gotten out of jail but whilst trying to recover money owed to him by a crooked fight promoter may just have killed him.  So the overly loving brother-sister duo aren’t the only ones running from the law.  Snowed in at a hunting lodge, the bar owner is being yelled at to bring over more drink for her ex sister-in-law.  As she wryly observes:  “You can’t choose your family”.  This really pretty much sums director Stefan Ruzowitzky and writer Zach Dean’s icy noir thriller Deadfall up.

At least Jay’s father Chet (Kris Kristofferson) and mother June (a rare and welcome appearance by Sissy Spacek) are a loving couple, very comfortable with each other, although Chet has been estranged from his son and isn’t terribly overjoyed to have him back for that quintessential American holiday, Thanksgiving.  In fact, nobody seems to have much to be thankful for.

Police woman Hanna (Kate Mara, always a pleasure) does try, though; although you would wonder why.  She seems to be the only female cop in a station full of male assholes, the chief one being her own father, Sheriff Marshal Becker (Treat Williams).  Refusing to let her join the hunt for Addison–who has killed a police officer—he tells her in front of all his men that it might be inconvenient if she had to change her tampon. No wonder the rest of them feel like they can behave like macho shitheads.  Put it this way, you won’t exactly shed any tears when a couple get a bullet through them.

The final damaged family unit is in the shape of an abused wife and her children, with whom the fleeing Addison takes refuge for the night.

Deadfall is a well-executed thriller.  It is swiftly paced and with enough action—including a very good snowmobile chase—to keep you from questioning any of the plot developments.

It all comes to a climax at the home of Chet and June, where the dynamics between the various individuals are nicely played around with.  I don’t know why I enjoy seeing the family unit deconstructed and messed with like this.  It’s obviously something I should be having out with a psychiatrist; but the fact that it all takes place at Thanksgiving—something I have never attended—makes it strangely satisfying.

Deadfall won’t set the world on fire, perhaps; but it is an efficient and enjoyable thriller.  One big quibble I have is why they lumbered it with such a tedious title. I don’t get it.  And wasn’t there a film with the same title a while back?  I think it was something with Nicholas Cage in it (which of course would explain why I gave it a miss).

Author: Charley Brady

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