Originally published on So So Gay on 23 March 2015.
Under-appreciated by her husband and almost housebound in order to look after her two young children, devoted mother Terri (Taraji P. Henson) welcomes the distraction of new adult company when a charming stranger turns up on her doorstep one stormy evening, claiming car trouble. As she plays Good Samaritan to the apparently trustworthy Colin (Idris Elba), little does she realise she’s inviting a dangerous escaped convict into her home, and it’s not long before this new acquaintance reveals his true colours and begins to terrorize her family.
At just 80 minutes long, No Good Deed is a rare example of a film that would have benefited from more breathing room. The calibre of the cast, in particular Henson and Elba, mean that the battle is already half-won with regards to engaging the viewer. However, the film sadly clocks out too soon, with a last-minute plot twist only accelerating the closing chapter and bringing the film to a fairly unsatisfactory and predictable conclusion.
Director Sam Miller does a creditable job of developing the tension-filled and beautifully shot ride, but Aimee Lagos’ script is unfortunately not up to par. The serviceable dialogue is really elevated by the charismatic cast rather than anything else and, crucially, Colin’s malevolent persona, which the film hangs its hat on, is ultimately rather hollow. As such, No Good Deed feels frustratingly like a style-over-substance affair; a criminal fact when you consider the assembled talent. By no means a bad film – it merely deserved to be so much better.
Also included with the DVD is a bonus ‘making of’ featurette where everyone pats each other on the back for a job well done, but adds little of interest to the back story of the production. Worth watching once, the film itself is an enjoyable if rather forgettable event, save for some excellent performances from a suitably menacing Elba and an unusually vulnerable Henson.
No Good Deed is available to buy on DVD from Amazon.