Screen Gems celebrates Violence Against Women Awareness Week with “No Good Deed,” a brutal thriller about, you guessed it, a “malignant narcissist” committing all sorts of violence against women.
The team behind “Obsessed” serves up Idris Elba as an escaped convict savagely menacing Taraji P. Henson and assorted other females in assaults so savage you’d think they happened in a casino elevator.
Screen Gems canceled preview showings of this, protecting a “plot twist,” they said. No, they were hoping the violence here would not take people out of the movie and into the evening news and sports talk radio, much the way the NFL is hoping images and a news story just go away.
And unlike Disney, which postponed a comic thriller which featured a bomb on a plane as a plot element 13 years ago, they’re just trotting this blood-stained melodrama out there and hoping we don’t notice.
Would “No Good Deed” have anything worth talking about without the Ray Rice sucker punch tie-in? Barely.
Elba plays Colin, serving time for manslaughter in Tennessee where the parole board has the good sense to not let him go. He escapes, and after checking in with an old flame (Kate Del Castillo) stumbles to Terry’s door in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta.
It’s a rainy night, and his disarming charm takes a while to work on Terry (Hanson). She has two tiny kids, a husband out of town and a suspicious nature. But his baritone and sleepy eyes do their magic, his cover story (he really did have a wreck in the rain) seems logical.
But once he’s inside the house, it’s just a matter of time before mayhem ensues. Who knew an 84 minute movie could seem this much longer?
Leslie Bibb plays the absurdly flirtatious neighbor-pal, whose come ons are porn-video obvious. And every so often, something hilariously coincidental changes the subject of awkward conversations — a child cries, a tree crashes through the window.
Elba’s a good actor, letting us see Colin size Terry up, reason out her situation, his eyes revealing cunning in one instant, future-tense guilt in the next.
“I ain’t got nothing to lose,” he declares, until his British grammar kicks in. “You stand…to lose ALL!”
Henson does as well as can be expected, playing a fiercely protective mom whose temper apparently takes precedence over her fear, mouthing insults like she’s arguing with her husband, but at a huge, muscular stranger with a gun.
The erotic touches, Terry’s coy attention to appearance after the audience has seen Colin as a man of violence, are a joke. And the sexualized extreme close-ups just underline how tin-eared “No Good Deed” would be, even without that security camera footage of a jock belting a woman as context.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language
Cast: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate Del Castillo
Credits: Directed by Sam Miller, screenplay by Aimee Lagos. A Screen Gems release.