Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky.
Starring: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Treat Williams, Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson, Kate Mara.
Running Time: 95 minutes.
Synopsis: A thriller that follows two siblings who decide to fend for themselves in the wake of a botched casino heist, and their unlikely reunion during another family’s Thanksgiving celebration.
The acclaimed director of 2007’s Oscar-winning crime drama THE COUNTERFEITERS, Stefan Ruzowitzky makes only his second English-language feature (following laughter-free comedy, ALL THE QUEEN’S MEN) with this impressively cast crime thriller.
Addison and Liza (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) believe – along with their getaway driver – they’ve escaped the law after robbing a casino of a bagful of cash. Things get a whole lot worse when a state trooper comes to their aid after an accident on a desolate highway, leaving the siblings hastily splitting up and retreating to the ice-cold barrens. Elsewhere, a headstrong recently released ex-con (Charlie Hunnam) visits his parents for Thanksgiving but finds unwanted answers could land him right back in jail, and an overprotected and undervalued smalltime cop (Kate Mara) learns her dream position could be threatened due to the cataclysmic collision of the aforementioned events.
What begins as a generic, enigmatic heist flick unravels as a complex character study focusing on a number of flawed and genuinely disturbed individuals. Leaving the majority of their intense backstories shrouded in mystery certainly adds to the desperate predicament Addison and Liza find themselves in, with an incestuous past hinted at. This theme runs throughout, and whether charging through the frozen wilderness on snowmobiles or committing acts of violence, there is always a lingering sense of an alternative path each character could take.
The always underrated Bana excels as the intimidating Addison who’s willing to cross any line to ensure escape from the perusing authorities. We may not see the botched casino robbery in action, but the strong simplistic opening scenes are just as accomplished in their ambiguity. The stunning Olivia Wilde proves she’s more than just a pretty face as Liza struggles with the temporary separation from her puppeteer kin. Turning on the deceptive seduction, she clings onto Hunnam’s newly discharged and bitter crook, Jay, for a desperate ride to the border, hoping to be reunited with her ruthless relative. However, Jay is also running from his own demons.
Tasked with linking the two narrative strands, Mara’s character is a sympathetic daddy’s girl who’s not allowed to play with her tougher male colleagues, but the only one with any awareness of what could be around the corner. As her likeable, if not chauvinistic police buddies are being picked off, she has the tactical nous of what she is ultimately up against, despite her father blaming her for the situation.
DEADFALL boasts originality, but oozes dread in much the same way as Sam Raimi’s superior A SIMPLE PLAN, with the snowy location and eerie tone also suggesting they’re not a million miles away from one another. The direction is taut, as each subplot is cleverly interwoven to slowly move forward like an intense game of chess before the unnerving celebratory dinner conclusion that recalls KILLER JOE, if a little less sexually sadistic. A menacing and majestic crime-thriller.