Deadfall review

After suffering a car crash having just robbed a casino, criminal siblings Addison (Bana) and Liza (Wilde) are forced to continue their escape across the Canadian border on foot. After Addison shoots a local cop, they must evade the police who are tracking them through the snow-covered wasteland. They split up and Liza eventually crosses paths with the just-released from prison Jay (Hunnan), who plucks her from the freezing cold and although Liza initially plans on taking advantage of him to make her escape, she develops feelings for him. Eventually the siblings are re-united at Jay’s house for a very tense final showdown. Alongside that main plot thread we are also treated to the relationship between Jay and his parents Chet (Kristofferson) and June (Spacek). On top of that we have another plot thread involving young State Trooper Hannah Becker (Mara) and her Sheriff father Marshall (Williams).

For me that, was one thread too many and eventually detracts from what rapidly becomes the Bana show. His turn as Addison is superb, equal parts chilling and charming he is one of my favourite villains so far this year. From his somewhat inappropriate relationship with his sister (which is putting it lightly) to his murderous ways, he seems like nothing more than fully messed up, cold blooded killer, yet he does seem to possess some form of conscience which is highlighted by him stepping in to confront a drunk father abusing his family. He is a complicated and thoroughly unlikable character and I thought he was brilliant. The final scene is superb and you just don’t know what to expect from one second to the next.

The second act spends more time focusing on the burgeoning relationship between Jay and Liza and I felt that was the weakest aspect of the film, very closely followed by the “I wish you were a boy” relationship between trooper Hannah and her father. Not much of this is inventive or indeed relevant to the main story and I feel it could easily have been jettisoned to make for more Bana or even more on Jay, who is not a particularly well-rounded character yet plays a crucial role in the story.

The plot of Deadfall (whose title still confuses me despite much Googling) seems fairly straightforward on the surface (and IMDB page), but it is so layered and multi-stranded that it actually ends up being a bit of a mess. It is a film about the relationships between parents and children, a film which seems to say men are bad and girls are good and it has a lot of interesting points which could have made for a super film were it not hugely let down by a quite boring second act. Just as your attention is waning though, the final act kicks in and Bana notches his performance up several gears and it makes for a truly enthralling finale.

• Deadfall at IMDb

Mark Brennan

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