No Good Deed is the prototypical paint-by-numbers thriller destined to air as a Lifetime Movie of the Week feature. The plot is thin and relatively predictable, though the one minor “twist” does help explain one important element, but what saves it from turkey status is the screen presence of the woefully underrated Idris Elba who is far too good for this material.
No Good Deed
Genre(s): Suspense, Thriller
Sony | PG13 – 84 min. – $35.99 | January 6, 2014
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
No Good Deed has the laughable tagline “First he gets into your house. Then he gets into your head.” Sorry, but that gave me a chuckle even before the movie started and when it was over, it’s just as safe and generic as one would expect with one saving redemption: Idris Elba. It’s also rated PG-13 and taking out a neck break sound here and a shovel to the face there, this is suited for a Lifetime Movie status.
The film begins with some clunky exposition via a news report outlying the violent crimes of a man named Colin (IDRIS ELBA) who, due to lack of evidence and testimony, gets a light sentence after an aggravated assault. He’s up for parole but is quickly denied despite a fine performance he puts forward to the board with one member seeing through his B.S. On the way back to prison in the transport van, he suckers the single guard in the back putting him in a headlock while the driver attempts to stop him but, in a confusing sequence where I can only guess the driver’s gun goes off and kills the other guard. Keystone cops apparently.
With Colin out on the loose, he decides to pay a visit to his ex-girlfriend (KATE DEL CASTILLO) suspecting, and receiving confirmation after confronting her, that she is seeing somebody else after which, Colin brutally kills her, again in PG-13 fashion though we do get the sound of a neck break for extra effect.
We next are introduced to Terry (TARAJI P. HENSON), a former prosecutor turned stay-at-home mother while her defense attorney husband, Jeffrey (HENRY SIMMONS), brings home the bacon, though he’s not exactly the most supportive hubby and with the chaos, decides to take a weekend golf drip to celebrate his father’s birthday. During this sequence, we also meet Terry’s best friend, Meg (LESLIE BIBB) who we quickly learn is the promiscuous type and the sound voice of reason in Terry’s ear.
Meanwhile, the dark and stormy night cliché gets into full effect as Colin is driving along a dark highway, swerves and hits a tree straight on, narrowly escaping. He gets out and comes upon Terry’s lavish home and after some sweet talking, and very apparently not calling a tow truck, is invited inside. A fair portion of this part is more back and forth, character development mainly for Terry but little, if any suspense, until Meg drops by for what was a planned girls night, though with this stranded stranger, he’s invited for some wine and idle chatter. Oh, and one of Colin’s lies was that he lived nearby and it just so happens Meg is a realtor and almost deals exclusively in that neighborhood! Go f***ing figure.
We get some more “intense” chat before it becomes evident to Terry (finally!) that Colin may not be who he seems to be and the face-off is on where, throughout the feature, she levies many an attack that I doubt even Michael Myers could survive (pre-H20 anyway).
Make no mistake, No Good Deed is a bad movie, poorly written with a plotline better served on Lifetime than a theatrical feature release. It was helmed by Sam Miller whose more notable work was on the British series, “Luther” starring Idris Elba. The direction here is adequate if not standard but manages to keep an OK pace.
For his part, Elba really carries the movie and is probably the sole reason to even see this and that’s with all due respect to Taraji P. Henson whom I became a fan of when she was on “Person of Interest.” The other cast members are more or less fillers from the bubbly Leslie Bibb, though she gives a couple good jabs, and Henry Simmons as the loveless husband.
In the end, is it worth a rental? Perhaps for Elba but otherwise No Good Deed is one you can watch on television and won’t be missing a whole lot.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
The bonus material is actually rather light with three featurettes: Making a Thriller (12:20; HD), The Thrill of a Good Fight (6:10; HD) and Good Samaritan (4:28; HD), the latter two of which are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **. None of them are particularly expansive but at least offer insights by the cast and crew on making the movie and its various aspects from the story to the stunts.
Previews – The Equalizer, What the Game Stands Tall, Predestination, The Remaining, Whiplash
VIDEO – 4.5/5
No Good Deed goes unpunished onto Blu-ray presented with a 1080p high-definition transfer and in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The transfer, from a 4K master, looks great with excellent detail level throughout while colors tends to be a tad muted mainly because the bulk of the film takes place at night and, when outside, during a rainstorm.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The movie comes with a low-key 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which is effective but ultimately limited. Dialogue levels are decent making use of the front channel while the generic thriller score helps provide a little depth, but everything else is a bit flat from ambient noises to the downpour/rainstorm highly featured in a few key scenes.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, No Good Deed is the prototypical paint-by-numbers thriller destined to air as a Lifetime Movie of the Week feature. The plot is thin and relatively predictable, though the one minor “twist” does help explain one important element, but what saves it from turkey status is the screen presence of the woefully underrated Idris Elba who is far too good for this material. The Blu-ray at least has good video/audio transfers while the bonus features are limited.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.