“Deadfall” liberally borrows spare parts from past films, from the misunderstood beauty to the angry son who can never please his father.
What emerges is a compulsively watchable tale led by an actor straining to create something more than just cinema’s latest cold-blooded killer.
Eric Bana stars as Addison, part of a brother and sister team which successfully rips off a casino before their luck runs cold. Within one perilous sequence their getaway car crashes, their driver is killed and Addison shoots a cop investigating the accident.
Addison and sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) decide to make separate runs for the nearby Canadian border before reuniting. The catch? The weather is brutally cold, and the region is already blanketed by snow.
Liza ends up befriending a boxer (Charlie Hunnam) with a bruised past while Addison keeps running into the local police force as well as innocent locals.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky squeezes the aforementioned elements together, including some gentle machinations involving the boxer’s parents (Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek). A lesser cast would have made the overstuffed gambit backfire, but the reassuring presence of old pros and the enchanting Wilde grant the film some dignity.
Screenwriter Zach Dean relies heavily on those happy accidents that power far too many stories, along with one more subplot featuring a female cop (Kate Mara) trying to ignore the misogyny back at the station. Her father, played by Treat Williams, is the main offender.
Bana’s Aussie accent occasionally makes itself heard, but otherwise the actor gives Addison a semblance of decency. You can feel him trying to resurrect his banished soul, but necessity requires him to kill and kill again. It’s how quickly Addison embraces his inner thug that reminds you there’s little to be redeemed.
“Deadall” proves less convincing when Wilde and Hunnam are exchanging moist glances, but the film’s thriller elements and ambitious lead performances rally on its behalf over and again.