“Good People” is the cinematic equivalent of a page turner, a thriller that leaves no thriller trope unused, no melodramatic stone unturned, no foreshadowing un-shadowed.
Heck, it’s even got bad guys driving a Jaguar — just as the TV commercials promise.
But a good cast, some solid if gruesome action beats and a short running time mean we’ll stick with it, turning those predictable pages right up to the grand predictable finale.
James Franco and Kate Hudson are an American couple trying for a “fresh start” in London. She’s a school teacher, desperate to get pregnant. He’s a contractor/laborer who has spent their last cent restoring his grandmother’s run down house. His business in Chicago went bust, she had a miscarriage, so they moved.
But they’ve sublet the basement of their apartment to a thug, a guy who double-crossed the wrong people while robbing a Euro-drug lord (Omar Sy) of his “Liquid O” — heroin. When the double-crosser dies, the couple finds the body. And his cash stash.
That means the drug lord, who calls himself Genghis Khan, is making threats. The psychotic mobster (Sam Pruell) whose brother was one of those double-crossed and killed in the robbery is making more threats.
And the cop (Tom Wilkinson) who has been warned away from pursuing those assorted villains by his possibly corrupt boss is sure these Americans know more and possess more than they’re letting on. The cop’s daughter died of a drug overdose, by the way.
That’s a big feature of this script, based on a Marcus Sakey novel — that need to wholly motivate everybody involved. Khan wants revenge, Jack (Spruell) wants the cash, Anna (Hudson) needs in vitro fertilization money and Tom (Franco) needs to get them out from underwater, financially. And the cop wants closure.
Danish director Henrik Ruben Genz (“Terribly Happy”) can’t hide his cards and rarely even tries to. He’s stuck with a script that has “Promise you won’t kill us,” maybe the silliest line ever uttered to a murderer, but that features some dandy threats, some by the villain who doesn’t drive the Jaguar.
“Don’t you know when you find a pot of gold, there’s always a monster guarding it?”
Omar Sy stands out in this cast, smacking his lips with every Genghis Khan pun. He is “expanding my empire,” he cracks. Spruell is frightening in every second of screen time.
The beatings are fierce, the blood flows and everybody acts exactly the way characters in thrillers act, with undue bravado, blind lust for cash and easily disregarding the pain of this broken nose or that flesh wound.
Silly stuff, but you can’t help but turn the page to see if your guess as to how this all will come out is as on the money as you just know it is.
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence and language
Cast: James Franco, Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy, Sam Spruell
Credits: Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz , written by Kelly Masterson, based on the Marcus Sakey novel. A Millennium release.
Running time: 1:26