No Good Deed is director Sam Miller‘s latest suspenseful home invasion thriller, starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. Unlike most films of the sub-genre, No Good Deed is smart, fast-paced and well-acted. It strays away from formula far enough to be worthy of a viewing and even a little praising. Idris Elba stretches his acting chops and delivers a performance that is out of his normal realm, while co-star Taraji P. Henson stands out and gives her character much-needed strength and backbone that is mostly missing in this sort of film. Consider me impressed.
Colin Evans (Idris Elba) has just escaped a guarded prison van after getting denied parole on a violent sentence that involves multiple brutal murders and manipulation. He’s on the run and gets into a nasty car accident in the middle of a storm. The nearest house is home to Terri (Taraji P. Henson), a mother and wife that’s home alone with her two children as her busy husband goes on a weekend golf trip with his father.
Colin’s sadistic and twisted game of cat-and-mouse begins immediately as he asks to borrow her phone to make a call for a tow truck. Terri slowly realizes Colin’s plans and becomes trapped in a deadly game with a mentally unstable and highly dangerous man. Will she survive or will she and her family become victims to this crazed killer?
Sam Miller‘s No Good Deed might seem like just another boring and mindless thriller. A thriller that follows the basic home invasion formula to a T, especially if you’re judging this one purely on its plot and trailers. Nothing about the film seems all that unique or interesting, besides perhaps the casting of seasoned star Idris Elba. Elba has yet to deliver a bad role and usually goes out of his way to make good films great.
He’s not always the star of the films, but this time he is and he’s playing someone drastically different than he’s accustomed to and he does so with ease. No Good Deed allows the more-than-capable star a chance to flex his muscles and showoff just how impressive he really is. He’s a force to be reckoned with in this one and his cold performance is sick and scary and especially frightening and twisted. Colin is a loose cannon waiting to snap at any second and watching Elba play it oh so cool for most of the film keeps audiences on the very edge of their seat, waiting for him to explode and take down everyone in his path.
And director Sam Miller does a splendid job keeping Elba at bay and playing the film against so many of the sub-genres tropes. Everything you think would happen doesn’t and instead of being just another thriller, No Good Deed becomes something much more impressive and surprising.
It keeps things refreshing and exciting the whole way through and relies on the smarts of its characters instead of the stupid. That’s a rare and highlighting trait that instantly makes this one worth a watch, because it’s constantly challenging its characters and keeping the audience guessing.
Most will be surprised with No Good Deed and just how many surprises it comes packed with. The film is smarter than it looks and much more deadly than you think. Most will be writing it off this weekend and normally I wouldn’t blame them, but I urge you to reconsider and give it a second chance. Idris Elba gives a great performance that overshadows Taraji P. Henson‘s equally impressive work, which gives female leads in this type of movie a new bar that must be met from here on out, while director Sam Miller keeps the story moving quickly and the suspense always at an all-time high.
Everything works so well and so much better than it rightfully should in No Good Deed. It’s a film that knows what you’re going to expect going in and it ends up taking those expectations and mostly throwing them out the door. Sure, it’s not going to be a year-end best or anything like that, but it’s definitely a much-needed surprise for the sub-genre and a great way to start off an otherwise slow and boring September at the movies.
No Good Deed – 7.5/10