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Deadfall

Year: 2012
Production Co: Magnolia Pictures
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Writer: Zach Dean
Cast: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson, Kate Mara

The first thing you ask yourself sitting down to this film is 'what's happened to Eric Bana?' From Black Hawk Down to Hulk and beyond, he was a genuine Hollywood A lister in some of the most widely seen movies ever.

The Time Travellers Wife was a spluttering cough in his career, and I never understood why everyone fawned so much over Hanna. The only thing I can guess is that he simply got bored with big expensive adventure movies and decided to chase small dramatic thrillers like this one.

The problem is that there are few thrills and little drama. Despite a stellar cast full of big names the story and execution are very dry, devoid of any subtlety and left me not really caring about anybody involved.

Brother Addison (Bana) and his sister Liza (Wilde) emerge from a car crash on a frozen backcountry road with a bag of cash after knocking over a casino. The film only hints at their dysfunctional relationship before Addison tells his sister to make for the border with the money separately because she's less believable as a criminal, and wait for him to call her.

At the same time, returned convict Jay (Hunnam, who I hope wrangles more charisma than this in Pacific Rim) gets himself into more trouble and goes on the run, trying to avoid his parents' house (Spacek and Kristofferson) but knowing he has little other choice. He picks Liza up on the road where she's half frozen to death and drives her to a truck stop motel, having no choice but to get a room for them because of the blizzard coming in.

Meanwhile Addison has killed and stolen his way across the ice and found his way to a remote farmhouse where he prepares to make a last push for the border.

Overnight the screwed up love Liza has for her brother becomes apparent when she starts to pose as Jay's wife to everyone they meet, apparently suffering some social convention issues. They end up in bed professing their true love for each other after one night and it's as if she's never known any man other than her brother.

So when Jay takes Liza to his parents' house for Thanksgiving the next day, hoping to reconnect with his prickly father, all seems well until (by an amazing coincidence) Addison has found his way there too. He holds everyone to ransom and insist June (Spacek) serve the Thanksgiving dinner she's prepared while they all sit around pretending to be a family. It reminds you of the comical Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene, only it's not as funny or nuanced.

The problems compound on each other. The tone is off all the way through, and it never gives you enough indication of whose story it is. While you're wondering about the implausibility of Liza falling in love with some stranger in one night (or not expanding on the emotional problems that cause it), the coincidences that pile up grow more ridiculous. Throw in a young female cop in Kate Mara who seems like a teenage girl playing dress-ups and is fighting her own father issues, and it's a movie overstuffed full of characters and their situations that leave them all worse off.

Bana should think about getting back to blockbusters. He puts on a southern accent but suffers the same fate he did in The Time Travellers Wife, fading into the background somewhat. Unless he's piled on pounds and playing crazy like in Chopper or wearing fake Romulan ears like he did in Star Trek there's just not much to him.

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