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No Good Deed Blu-ray Review

No Good Deed (2014) movie poster No Good Deed

Theatrical Release: September 12, 2014 / Running Time: 84 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Sam Miller / Writer: Aimee Lagos

Cast: Idris Elba (Colin Evans), Taraji P. Henson (Terry Granger), Leslie Bibb (Meg), Kate Del Castillo (Alexis), Henry Simmons (Jeffrey Granger), Mirage Spann (Ryan), Kenny Alfonso (Javier), Dan Caudill (Cop)

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No Good Deed piles on exposition at its start. Colin Evans (Idris Elba) was the chief suspect in the abductions of five young women, but there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute him. Instead, Colin was convicted of manslaughter for his role in a barroom brawl that turned fatal.
After five years in a Knoxville jail, Colin is now up for parole and he makes a pretty convincing and impassioned speech testifying to his rehabilitation. Just as it looks like he could be a free man, one member of the parole board points out that Colin is a good liar and has been diagnosed a malignant narcissist. Suddenly, the ex-con is now one vote shy of the unanimous vote he needs to be released and five years away from his next hearing.

Disappointed but not defeated, Colin escapes from his prison transport ride, killing a guard and a driver and taking freedom for himself. Colin's first stop is Atlanta, where he reconnects with an ex not long for this world. After a car accident, Colin makes what seems to be a spontaneous stop at the house of Terry Granger (Taraji P. Henson), a former DA prosecutor who is now a stay-at-home mother to two young kids. We've already met Terry and seen enough of her marriage to know that it is under some strain.

Colin Evans (Idris Elba) makes an impassioned speech about his rehabilitation which persuades all but one person on the parole board. Unfortunately for him, he needs a unanimous vote.

With a major storm brewing and her husband away for the night with his birthday-celebrating father, Terry exhibits some caution regarding the stranger who knocks on her door. But after letting him use her phone to call a tow truck, she invites Colin in and treats and his wounds. Despite her former line of work, Terry does not recognize Colin, nor does she see him as a threat. He's polite and even good with Terry's two daughters.

We know that Colin is bad news and in a dark place. In case you should forget, director Sam Miller is determined to remind you at every moment. Miller, a Brit seasoned in television drama and picking up his first theatrical credit since the late '90s, plays with shadows, camera angles, and even slow motion and flashbacks to ensure you don't forget even for a second that Colin Evans is a menacing man capable of fits of rage and murder.

As far escaped convict stories go, this is the anti-Labor Day. Terry discovers Colin's true nature around the halfway mark. She later finds out that he hasn't picked her entirely at random.

Terry (Taraji P. Henson) opts for tight clothing in the presence of the hunky escaped convict.

No Good Deed is apparently supposed to be sexy. While Colin keeps losing and changing his shirt, Terry strips down to form-clinging jeans and a tight camisole.
The camisole gets wet when Colin makes her join him for a steamy shower together, but there's a safe distance between them. No Good Deed doesn't seem to want to be a PG-13 movie, except that it has to be. Accordingly, all nudity is either kept in shadows or just out of frame. The movie even has to drown out gunshots with score, seemingly to appease the MPAA and avoid an R.

That more restrictive PG-13 rating comes with the territory for a thriller bearing Sony's Screen Gems label. Some Screen Gems films have been rated R, including the thus far five Resident Evil movies. But No Good Deed is more in the tradition of The Roommate, The Stepfather, and Prom Night, movies that have all turned a profit despite overwhelmingly savage reviews.

No Good Deed drew those too, barely cracking a double-digit approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But the movie still did stellar business last September, earning back its modest $13 million budget four times over in domestic theaters, though hardly hitting the big screen outside of North America. The film's box office record was very front-loaded, suggesting that the public's word-of-mouth wasn't much more favorable than that of critics. But the movie was already sitting pretty after a $24 M first place opening weekend. While subsequent weekends yielded steep drops, the movie was already a commercial success.

Henson hasn't had the most awe-inspiring career since her Oscar-nominated breakout role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There are only so many film roles for actresses over forty and seemingly quite a bit fewer for one of color. A Karate Kid sequel clearly isn't ever happening with Jaden Smith and no one is clamoring for a third Think Like a Man. Elba, on the other hand, seems to be enjoying a wider array of opportunities. Even if nothing comes of the hack-fueled rumors of him becoming the first black James Bond, he's working steadily and in films that people see, like Pacific Rim, Prometheus, 2013's better-received Mandela biopic, and Marvel's Thor series. One assumes he could do a lot better than this movie. Perhaps he did it as a favor to Miller, who has directed about half of the episodes of the actor's BBC crime series "Luther."

At least the movie is brisk and, at 79 minutes plus end credits, about as short as any live-action mainstream movie is these days.

No Good Deed was one of a number of fall theatrical releases that came to DVD and Blu-ray this week, when gift cards bestowed at Christmas have not yet been lost.

No Good Deed Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, Spanish), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

No Good Deed's nice looking 2.40:1 transfer is up to Sony's high Blu-ray standards. The visuals are very stylized, with much of every frame drenched in shadows. But the element remains sharp and clean throughout. Sound is offered in the usual 5.1 DTS-HD master audio and it pleases, with potent atmosphere and music.

A featurette shows us behind-the-scenes of Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson's carefully choreographed climactic fight. Screenwriter Aimee Lagos discusses the moral of the story: don't be a good Samaritan.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

No Good Deed is joined by three HD featurettes, two of which are exclusive to Blu-ray.

"Making a Thriller" (12:20), the only thing found on the DVD edition, is a general piece, full of cast and key crew members speaking of the project and the talent more highly and more at length than they should. Their remarks are complemented by a bit of grainy behind-the-scenes footage.

"The Thrill of a Good Fight" (6:10) considers -- spoiler alert? -- the dynamics of a climactic fight scene, with discussions of the physical challenges of the actors and their stunt doubles.

Finally, "Good Samaritan" (4:28) focuses on the story and characters, with screenwriter Aimee Lagos, picking up her second feature credit, leading the way.

The disc opens with an UltraViolet promo and trailers for The Equalizer, When the Game Stands Tall, Predestination, The Remaining, and Whiplash. The menu's Previews listing repeats the trailers. No Good Deed's own trailer is nowhere to be found here.

The scored, static menu features cast shots in shards of glass, a design that holds no obvious thematic significance to the film. Like other Sony Blu-rays, this one lets you resume unfinished playback and also set bookmarks on the film.

The side-snapped, unslipcovered keepcase holds a single insert, which supplies directions and a code for the Digital HD with UltraViolet that's included.

Terry Granger (Taraji P. Henson) finds out why you don't let a stranger inside your house on a stormy night. Leslie Bibb plays Meg, a promiscuous realtor who is friend to Terry and godmother to her daughters.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

No Good Deed plays out to your expectations of a domestic thriller. It's never terribly smart or creative, but at least it's fast and over before you have time to really be bothered by its inevitable turns. Sony's Blu-ray provides a few basic extras and an excellent feature presentation, but the disc isn't really worth your time unless you're crazy for the leads or can never get enough PG-13 thrillers.

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Related Reviews:
Idris Elba: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Pacific Rim Prom Night Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Thor Thor: The Dark World 28 Weeks Later
Taraji P. Henson: The Karate Kid (2010) Think Like a Man Think Like a Man Too The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Date Night
Leslie Bibb: Popular: The Complete Second Season | Directed by Sam Miller: Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series
New: The Equalizer Boyhood Reach Me | 2014 Thrillers: Good People Labor Day Into the Storm Devil's Due

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Reviewed January 8, 2015.



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