I found myself quite shocked recently to find out that throughout the entire month of September (yes the whole month); there literally seemed to be no good movies coming out at all. Everything I wanted to see I already saw this summer or I have yet to see this fall. Despite this “movie block” of mine, I decided to sweep my uninterested eyes across the dry heap of films out this September: starting with the Idris Elba lead thriller “No good deed.” Idris Elba is everywhere lately and the more I see of him the more I respect, admire and enjoy his work; no matter what problems the picture may suffer from. This film however…truly tested my tolerance and based on the groans and remarks I heard from my fellow audience members, I wasn’t the only one.
“No good deed” is the story of a particularly nasty killer by the name of Colin Evans (Idris Elba); a serial killer of women who is severely unhinged and just recently denied bail on his prison sentence. Evans doesn’t take rejection well and manages to escape his prisoner transport; only to crash into a telephone pole near the home of Terri (Taraij P. Henson). Terri is watching her 2 children all alone at her house tonight while her husband is away on a trip, that is until Colin asks to use Terri’s phone and lets the man into her home to dry off from the storm. What follows is a nightmarish tension loaded thriller with a mother and her two children fighting for their lives from a murderer she trusted into her home.
I remember the days of “Scream” where the characters in the script routinely pointed out that people in horror movies are stupid for doing idiotic things that no one in real life would ever do. Today’s thrillers and horror films utilize more plausible and believable people to prevent any cartoonish clichés like those ever appearing again. Apparently no one told the writer of this film that because it is loaded with so many obvious plot progression problems that you’d swear Terri has the IQ of teenagers from a “Friday the 13th” movie. Now the concept of a psychotic mad man invading a person’s home and watching them hunt and fight them over the course of 90 minutes isn’t a boring set up at all, but plots need certain steps to be followed in order for that set up to be crafted without it succumbing to stupidity.
And that’s the elephant that everyone can see and cannot avoid: there are way too many STUPID mistakes made here. Elba’s character is invited into this woman’s house, all alone with her children despite dozens of obvious red flags that even a 10 year would see. The performance and portrayal of this character by Elba is not bad at all, in fact he’s simply amazing as this cold blooded killer. We see his madness, feel his intensity and truly understand just how brutal his warped mind is. Henson is also great in this film, even the smaller supporting characters…but it doesn’t help anything if the story needs to skip over necessary steps just to get the characters into this kind of situation. It’s like skipping a problem on a test and then getting surprised when you realize you got the question wrong and it would have been easily avoided if you simply TRIED.
The situation and tension are fine, the actors are great but the execution and steps that lead up to the execution just feel sloppy and lazy; careless mistakes that many of the audience members groaningly pointed out several times during the film. There’s suspension of belief and then there’s downright ignorance that falls too heavily on the heads of people that should be smarter than this. It’s a real shame because I have nothing but potent praise for Elba’s crack at playing a darker role, he truly has a talent for playing any kind of role but this film just wastes his potential and your time by sloppily putting the most crucial intro parts together. “No good deed” has stellar performances from stellar actors, but sadly, it tries too hard with too little brain power behind it’s writing and ultimately makes this a single viewing (or rental at best) but nothing more.