Deducing the moral of a movie is a tricky thing.
So often our own expectations and experiences project up onto the screen, clouding the author’s intent.
Many times, ambiguity itself is the goal. Stating anything for certain is a fool’s errand.
Still, with No Good Deed I’m going to courageously (some would even call me a hero) give it a shot, if only because I don’t want you, the reader, to miss this important lesson.
Never ever help somebody who arrives at your door in distress. You will get murdered by a charming sociopath with the good looks of Idris Elba.
You know what, I’m going to go as far as to say that I nailed that.
Okay, so maybe that’s not the best message, though it does seem to be what the moronic title No Good Deed is trying to suggest.
Still, who cares about the title? Plenty of movies have bad titles. Plus I can assure you that the movie itself provides enough substantive disappointment to sustain us without taking pot shots at the name on the poster.
Yup, No Good Deed takes that classic trapped-with-a-murderer concept and well, does absolutely nothing new with it. Doesn’t even try.
We start with an over expository newscast telling us what a terrible guy this Colin Evans (Idris Elba) fellow is and then he does exactly what you expect of him, terrorizes Terri (Taraji P. Henson), a lonely housewife and mother of two.
That’s it, that’s the movie. Unfortunately for us he takes his sweet time with it too…
In fact, the word thriller couldn’t be more of a misnomer. I’ve seen glaciers with better pacing than this movie, whose idea of tension is just to throw out idle chit-chat and have Idris Elba stare menacingly for 45 minutes.
If your movie is billed as some sort of claustrophobic cat and mouse ordeal, it probably shouldn’t wait over half of its 84 minute running time getting to that cat and mouse ordeal.
And what fills that oh so painfully slow first act? Layer upon layer of nonsense coincidence meant to render our heroine Terri completely helpless.
Modern technology has made it quite difficult on creepy murderers who like to trap people in houses, and No Good Deed devotes ample time trying to make its shaky premise just a little bit plausible.
Still, when you call 911 and an automated voice tells you the volume of call traffic is too high to put you through to the police the same night that your cell phone breaks, we’re playing pretty fast and loose with the whole concept of “little bit plausible.”
On top of that, there’s not a character in this movie that hasn’t been done to death before.
The doting housewife, the uninterested husband, the oversexed best friend, even Colin the violent killer—they’re all so wooden and clichéd it’s as if someone googled stock characters and pieced together the first four descriptions into a movie.
By the end, I worried that Colin might be some sort of Michael Myers type (just Wikipedia the movie Halloween kids), but only because I know that Myers is basically unkillable and I just wanted it to be over.
No Good Deed fails to deliver any real thrills, and worse, takes itself too seriously to even get laughs. Take a pass.
Final Score 1/5