Stefan Ruzowitzky's "Deadfall"

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Stefan Ruzowitzky's "Deadfall"

Post by Deviss on Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:30 pm

"My brother killed the Devil. He saved me from Hell and I am forever thankful."

  • Story: Three and a half Stars
  • Acting: Four Stars
  • Directing: Three and a half Stars
  • Visuals: Four Stars
  • Overall: Four Stars

What is a deadfall? If you're a hunter, it's a a trap, specifically for larger game, in which a weight falls on and crushes the prey. If you aren't then it's simply a large mass of brush and or fallen trees. As this movie played out, I kept trying to figure out how either of those definitions applied to what I was seeing. I can say with relative ease that "Deadfall" certainly doesn't have anything to do with a mass of brush. As for the "trap" interpretation... that's still a bit muddled.

---

Siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are on the run after robbing a tribal casino in the middle of winter. On their way to the United States/Canadian border, they get into an accident which results in the murder of a state policeman. Opting to split up and rejoin once safely in Canada, Liza is found by Jay (Charlie Hunnam) walking down a snow-covered road, nearly frozen to death. After seducing Jay, Liza relays his home address to Addison, but Jay has fallen in love with Liza and takes her to join him, his mother June (Sissy Spacek), and his father Chet (Kris Kristofferson) for Thanksgiving. However Addison arrives at the family home before the two get there and holds everyone hostage. Liza soon finds herself faced with the most difficult decision of her life and the repercussions could blow back on everyone.

I've been a fan of Charlie Hunnam since the pilot of "Sons of Anarchy" first aired on the FX channel. It took me a couple episodes for me to become fully invested in his character, but I enjoyed what he did in the forty-five or so minutes of that pilot and I've followed "Sons" ever since, enjoying every twist and turn along the way. I'm sure you're thinking, "What does that have to do with this movie?" It's because of Charlie's casting, with a little help from Olivia Wilde's casting too, that I became interested in seeing "Deadfall". I wanted to see if "Jax Teller" could do more than just run and fight and kill on "Sons". Charlie gave a compelling performance as an ex-boxer, but his starring in this wasn't the primary reason, I was also interested in seeing in just what capacity Eric Bana could sell his role.

While he was sometimes flat in his line delivery, Bana was anything but that in his portrayal of the older brother Addison. As "Deadfall" went on, I was surprised at the character's actions. Not because they were overly vile or grotesque, but because they weren't at all what I expected him to do. In a movie like this, you expect one, or more, of the characters to be the stereotypical villain who will say or do anything to help himself without considering the aftereffects it has on those around him. That isn't at all what he proves to be. In one particular scene, Addison intervenes in a domestic dispute but after taking care of the abusive step-father, he treats the mother and her two children as if they were his own. I wasn't sure if it was because he was that caring, just looking for shelter, or if he was just that disturbed. More than once I got the vibe that he and Liza had more than just a sibling relationship.

Olivia Wilde was quite the perplexing character in this movie. As Liza the younger sister, I was unsure if she was supposed to have some sort of a mental affliction or if it was a part of some act she had for the casino robbery. Which we learn next to nothing about. It's mentioned once or twice in the opening scenes of the movie, and then it's as if it hadn't ever happened. Either way, I enjoyed her performance as well as Bana's. The chemistry between the two as older brother and younger sister was believable, albeit a little forced at times.

The only characters whose purposes I question were those of Hannah and Becker, Kate Mara and Treat Williams respectively. We find out that they're family, Kate playing Treat's daughter, who's lost their mother and have some unspoken issues between them, primarily Becker not thinking very much of his daughter. Aside from that, there is also the possibility of there being a brother in their family, but it's never clarified one way or the other. Nothing with those characters is ever clarified. Throughout "Deadfall" there is the occasional scene between the two that promises something coming later, a fight or resolution, something. We never get that resolution. It was as if the director forgot about that storyline completely. Hell, we're never given any reason as to why Hannah is a friend of Jay and his family.

There were a couple instances of Native Americans being referenced also, but those were developed even less than Hannah and her father were. I expected something to come up during the movie's climax, like perhaps Jay or Addison having some Native American family or something but that too is never followed up on.

I also wondered, aloud a couple times, how Addison didn't end up with some degree of frostbite. We're led to believe that it's winter in upstate Michigan, maybe even the Upper Peninsula, with the likelihood of a whiteout coming to that area. Addison has a winter hat on once. Every other scene he is in, when it is snowing rather hard, there is nothing covering his head, face, or ears. I've lived in Michigan for almost a decade and experienced what has come to be the "normal" for this state at that time of the year. At worst, there were snow drifts three to four feet high and winds that would freeze the breath in your lungs. I'm no wilderness expert, but I expected there to be some degree of frostbite after Addison went through what he did.

Those complaints aside, "Deadfall" proved to be very enjoyable. The story and characters, although more than obviously irregular at places, were both entertaining and engaging. I wasn't very surprised at how this movie ended, but I would definitely take the opportunity to see it again.

This was a review by tMG, thank you for reading.

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Re: Stefan Ruzowitzky's "Deadfall"

Post by frang on Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:59 pm

I know this has nothing to do with the movie. If you want to hide out in a country, don't go to Canada. Seriously. Not only do the Canadians have good local law enforcement, they have an exceptionally good national police force. I'm sure you've heard of them: the Mounties. They still exist and they are very, very good.

You want to flee? Run to Mexico. I'm serious. Guys have murdered people here in New Mexico and have run off to Mexico to stay free for ten years. One was finally caught the other day and extradited back to the USA. The last time a criminal tried to hide in Canada, the Mounties caught him in three weeks.

On the other hand, if you are a crim, go hide out in Canada. I'm suuurrrre you'll never be caught there. *Snicker.*

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