Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is a devoted wife and mother of two, living an ideal suburban life in Atlanta when Colin (Idris Elba), a charming but dangerous escaped convict, shows up at her door claiming car trouble. Terri offers her phone to help him but soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished as she finds herself fighting for survival when he invades her home and terrorizes her family.
With such a stellar cast, a good filmmaker, and a trailer that was scary, thrilling, and fun, I thought that 'No Good Deed' would be one of my favorite films of the year. I couldn't be more wrong. If you saw the amazing trailer to this film, you might have thought that it looked great and that someone finally had the amazing Idris Elba play a sadistic bad guy who is terrorizing a woman and her children. It had a lot of promise and potential based on that trailer alone. And since the film had Elba play a bad guy who seemed to be terrorizing a woman in her own home, I secretly wanted a 'Home Alone' type of ending with Idris getting attacked by all sorts of boobytraps. I know that wasn't going to be case, but if it was, I certainly would have enjoyed it.
Directed by Sam Miller, who directed several episodes of 'Luther' with Idris, 'No Good Deed' has no mind or soul of its own, even though it looks visually pleasing and has a commanding lead. This PG-13 thriller fails to really show any real suspense or twist that we can't see coming a mile away. It's sad really, because this could have been one of the more thrilling and scarier films this year. But unfortunately, it's a film that will be swept under the rug after its first viewing. Idris plays a man named Colin Evans who has been in prison for five years for manslaughter, and is also a suspect in five murders, all of whom are women.
He is denied parole and in this scene, we see Idris's talent come full force as he plays a man who is regretful of his actions and sincere, while still holding that mysterious and sadistic side we see later on in the movie. It's a perfectly tuned role that Idris has knocked out of the park. On the way back to jail, Colin gets a hold of a gun, shoots the police officer and driver, and escapes. Colin has a pit stop to make, which comes to play later on in the film, which I won't spoil for you, but he eventually ends up at Terry's (Taraji P. Henson) house with her young daughter and new toddler. Terry has her friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) coming over for a girl's night, since Terry's husband left on a work trip. Colin, who had just been in an automobile accident rings Terry's doorbell and asks for help.
Being involved in an aspect of the law for her job, focusing on abuse and violence, it's hard to realize that she would let a complete stranger in, but she does, and our movie takes off. Colin seems alright at first, but Terry soon discovers the monster he really is as she tries several escape attempts, but all prove unsuccessful. This all leads to a big plot twist reveal at the end of the film, which gives our characters somewhat of a background and reason for this film actually being made. But the thing about it that doesn't work is that we've seen these usual genre tropes and actions a thousand times before in other films, which takes us out of the movie completely and makes us think of the other better movie that did things right.
I do think Henson did an outstanding job as the mother protecting her kids from a mad man, but the shining star here is Idris Elba. He really keeps this moving flowing with every scene he's in. And even though he's the bad guy, each scene without him in it, you're wishing he was on screen. 'No Good Deed' missed the mark by a long shot and came across as silly and dull, when it could have been something much better. But at least we get to see Idris scare the living day lights out of us, right?
'No Good Deed' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer, which was mastered in 4K. The image itself is simply amazing. I only wish the film itself was as good. The detail is strikingly vivid and sharp throughout. Not only are closeups very detailed, but the wider shots and background props and sets look very sharp as well, giving the picture quite a bit of depth. Even during the lower lit scenes, objects show a lot of detail. Closeups reveal every individual hair, wrinkle, makeup blemish, and stitch in costumes very nicely.
Every scuff mark and imperfection in the kitchen appliances and household items show up cleanly as well. I'd say this image is demo worthy, but then you'd have to subject people to this horrible film. Colors seem to pop right off screen at all times and are very well saturated and realistic. Skin tones are natural and the black levels are very deep and inky throughout the entire movie. There are no issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of at all. This is as good as an image gets.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it sounds amazing. Being a suspenseful thriller, one would hope that the sound design is engaging and lively, and I'm happy to report that this audio mix is just that and then some. Sound effects are robust, full and alive at all times. The crescendos and lows are precise with no shrieking or muddled noise of any kind. Each sound effect is realistic and packs a punch. Since this film mostly takes place during a thunderstorm, the sound effects of the wind, lightning, thunder, and rain sound amazing and full immerses you in the center of the storm.
There is also some great directionality here as well. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow with zero instances of any pops, cracks, or hissing to speak of. The heavier action sequences that involve gun shots and the escape sequence toward the beginning are powerful and loud with some decent bass rumbling the walls. The score always adds to the suspense of the film without drowning out any of the dialogue or sound effects. For being a thriller, this audio track hits all the right notes with its excellent LFE and a very wide dynamic range. I only wish the film itself was better.
Making a Thriller (HD, 13 Mins.) - This is a better than average promo reel for the movie with cast and crew interviews as they discuss the themes, story, characters, overall shoot and production. Worth a look if you enjoyed the film.
'No Good Deed' had so much potential. With an actor like Idris Elba, you literally have gold in your hands to make a successful movie. And while the trailer to this film promised something very suspenseful and scary, we ended up getting something silly, mundane, and unoriginal. That being said, the video and audio presentations are both incredible. The extras are more of a slightly upgraded promo reel. It would have been nice to have some more on set footage, a commentary track, or a gag reel. Since the film is so bad, I'm going to recommend you rent it first to see if you must purchase, because technically and visually speaking, this one's a winner.