Monday, April 30, 2012


Addison (Eric Bana) in Deadfall.
Fury on wayward sons

By John Esther

From the writer-director excellent 2007 film, The Counterfeiters, director Stefan Ruzowitzky's American feature wastes little time informing viewers that there is much masculine violence in the cold mountains near the USA-Canada border.

First there is the violent car crash leading to a man's head going through the window. (The only non-white character in the film is killed off first. We have a word for that narrative trope in cultural studies).

Addison (Eric Bana) and his sister, Liza (Olivia Wilde) survive the crash, drenched in a pool of blood, snow and cash. As an officer pulls up to see what is going on, with a southern elocution Addison says to the lawman, "I hope one day you can forgive me" before shooting him multiple times.

Request denied.

Accordingly, Addison and Liza must split up, but not before one gets the feeling he and Liza have a little down south affair going on. But that their daddy's fault, really.

Meanwhile, Jay (Charlie Hunnam), who was once an Olympic-winning boxer, has just been released from prison. Once out he gives a call to his parents. His mom, June (Sissy Spacek), is pretty cool. She wants her boy to come home for Thanksgiving. His dad, Chet (Kris Kristofferson), is not so eager to see his disappointing son.

Jake agrees to his mother's pleas, but he first needs to settle a score. This score is anything but settling and now Jay is making a run for the border. Along the way, Jay meets Liza. They hit it off while Addison is on his little murder spree.

Along with some other characters dealing with similar issues regarding paternal guilt, eventually, predictably and not too convincingly, all meet up in one location for the final showdown. Time for a little redemption through revenge.

Interesting characters snowbound by Zach Dean's debut screenplay, Deadfall has its moments of deep, fleeting poignancy during moments of violence -- like when a little girl tells Addison "you're no angel" as he shoots down another officer; when Chet assures his son "this is your table" after Jay makes his Thanksgiving amends; and watching Hanna's (Kate Mara) terrible luck as she tries to please her misogynistic father (Treat Williams) -- but those moments get buried in yet another bloody tale of American violence and redemption.

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