"What would home look like? I don't know. A farmhouse in the valley, I guess, like the one we grew up in, Liza and I."
Academy Award winning director for his foreign film The Counterfeiters, Stefan Ruzowitzky, now brings us an American crime thriller dealing with dysfunctional families. It seems to be an odd choice for a director who had so much success back in Austria considering this is an average B-film that doesn't introduce anything new or unique to the genre. Deadfall never manages to deliver the thrills that it promises either and has a rather unsatisfying ending. At times it felt like a film that was trying to be something else, but it never quite figured out what it wanted to be and ended up only scratching the surface of the dysfunctional family drama it was so desperately tying to explore. Perhaps it suffered from trying to add several subplots and intertwine them together towards the climactic end, but ultimately Deadfall felt like your average crime thriller with a strong ensemble cast, but a poor and unimaginative script. Deadfall never quite delivers the thrills and the characters are underdeveloped turning this film into a messy ordeal. As much as I wanted to enjoy this, I couldn't find anything redeeming about it, and not even the beautiful Olivia Wilde shines here. It's a dull film that tries to be more important than it really is with way too many subplots and overlapping themes that are barely explored.
The screenplay was written by Zach Dean centering on two siblings, Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde), who are heading towards the Canadian border after having pulled of a casino heist. We never see the actual heist take place since the film opens with them already in route to the border when all of a sudden in the midst of a blizzard their vehicle crashes into a deer. Addison is forced to kill the patrolman and decides to split up with Liza and meet up later as the police will be after him. On another note, we are introduced to a former boxer named Jay (Charlie Hunnam) who is being released from prison. The first thing Jay does is call his mother June (Sissy Spacek) who lives in a farmhouse near the spot where Addison and Liza crashed. She invites Jay over for Thanksgiving dinner despite the fact that he's been estranged with his father Chet (Kris Kristofferson). Along the way, Jay finds Liza nearly freezing to death near the highway and he decides to give her a lift. Addison on the other hand is being hunted by Sheriff Becker (Treat Williams) and his men who are closing in on the trail of blood he's left behind. Becker's daughter, Hannah (Kate Mara), whose also an officer is ordered to stay in the station and out of trouble. As the characters are all introduced it becomes inevitable to realize that they are all going to intersect somewhere along the way.
Despite the talented ensemble cast, the script is so poorly written that there is not much they can do to prevent their characters from becoming cardboard cutouts. Even the always reliable and legendary actors such as Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek can't do anything to save this film. Hunnam and Wilde have a very poorly developed romantic subplot that felt extremely rushed. Bana didn't really look too menacing as the villain and at times his character felt cartoonish. The dysfunctional family elements that this film tries to explore never really gets anywhere and they all seem too cliche. The male characters are seen as tough while the females are forgiving and patient. The western showdown near the end wasn't engaging either and everything about this film felt ordinary despite the different themes they were trying to blend together. It never digs under the surface of those elements it's trying to introduce and that's why the film feels so dull and empty. Deadfall is not the important and smart thriller it's trying to be.