No Good Deed

Drop the weapon, you won't need THAT again!
★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
2014
Director: 
Sam Miller
Starring: 
Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb
The Setup: 
Psycho invades woman's house.
Discussion: 

I'm a bit of a sucker for these kinds of movies, which is why when I saw the poster for this one, I was like "WHERE have they been hiding that?" And with Idris "Sex" Elba, no less. And a tagline that says "First he gets in your house... then he gets in your head," which implies some sort of psychological cat-and-mouse. I assure you there is nothing of the kind, and while it passes time as well as the average game of Ms. Pac-Man, half the amusement comes from snickering at how very dumb our heroine is, despite supposedly being a homicide lawyer who describes most killers as "stupid." But we're getting ahead... because honestly, I'm pre-bored with the concept of describing the setup.

So let's just skip it. The basics: Elba is Colin, denied parole for his several killings of women, and just so burned up at being described as a "malignant narcissist" by a guy on the board. You know, words can hurt, too. So he escapes from the prison van [easier than you might think], and goes back to see his former fiancee, Alexis, who is white or pale-skinned Latina. He beats her to death, ruins his car, and shows up at the house of Terri.

But let's go back to the setup of Terri, which is partially interesting. She's a bored housewife in a GIANT bourgie McMansion [Alexis was in a giant bourgie house, too], with a young daughter and the world's most silent baby. Her husband comes home for a few seconds, but he's off for the weekend to his father's birthday [spouses aren't invited?] and is in no mood to pay attention to his wife. She asks if they can go for a romantic getaway once he gets back, and he "yeah's" her until he's out the house. So she's unfulfilled, and we know she has a sexy hunk of man on his way over, and he's going to try to "get in her head." I'm on board: let's have it. But first we meet skinny young blonde Meg, who has "victim" written on her forehead, and is supposedly Terri's best friend. Now, not to say that two very different women COULDN'T be best friends, but... it just rings a little false. But we're trying to create a POSITIVE image of intra-racial friendship, even if it's one that no one would buy for a second. Anyway, Meg is coming over later that night to have a "girl's night" with Terri.

So Colin comes to the house. Terri has a peephole, but she just opens the door without looking. She lets him use her phone, then goes back to check on the kids, leaving the door open. Have a mentioned that it's a terrible storm? Soon enough she invites him in, not noticing the gun sticking visibly out of his shirt pocket. They talk, and he gets out of her that she's not entirely happy in her marriage. Blah, blah, things are just starting to get weird when: Meg arrives! Meg sizes up a giant hunk of handsome man and flirts shamelessly. They go out for a smoke, and Colin lets Meg believe that he and Terri have been having an affair for awhile, and also that Terri doesn't really like her very much. Meg, not a bright bulb, decides to call bullshit on this while they are out in the isolated garage with no one around, and, hardly a spoiler, but--

SPOILERS > > >
Meg gets the shovel treatment. Colin tells Terri that she went home, but her umbrella is still there. Now she's suspicious! She's about to call someone, but the phone lines have been cut! And all the knives are missing from the kitchen. She goes upstairs to find Colin with the older girl, gun sticking out of the back of his pants. Now, his back is to her, the gun is right there in easy reach, but does she grab it? No. Instead she bashes him on the head with the fire extinguisher, he falls down the stairs, and does she go down to ensure that he's out for good--OR at LEAST get the gun? Of course not. After more torment, she brains him again, and once again--drops the weapon and runs. She later stabs him with a letter-opener [WHO are these people who have letter openers?] and again, drops the weapon immediately. Oh, you won't need that again. Everything's probably fine now. You know, once I can forgive, but come on, lady! Show some survival instinct! She finally gets through to the police, at which point he tells her to go upstairs and gather the kids, which seems like excellent weapons-gathering time to me, but... of course not. Terri, I'm afraid, is a bit of a dim bulb.

Anyway, they take to the road with the well-behaved little girl and baby who sleeps silently through gunshots and numerous fisticuffs, and after some drama with a cop, end up at Alexis' house. Now, do you know that they didn't have critic previews for this films supposedly because they wanted to preserve a giant twist? NOT because it's a shitty movie. NO, not IN ANY WAY because of that. Not to mention that this has a lot of black man-on-woman violence and there's been the whole Ray Rice thing lately. Anyway, Alexis' phone rings while Colin is outside, and guess who it is? Her HUSBAND! He's been having an affair with Alexis! Small world... and that makes him the second black guy in the film schtupping a white woman, not to mention blonde Meg being all over Colin prior to being bludgeoned. The fucking white woman menace! Anyway, she tells him to get the police. What the husband was doing this whole night until then [if the whole weekend was to be his getaway with Alexis] is not explained.

They have ye olde knock-down, drag-out fight, and Terri finally gets the gun and for once holds onto it. She shoots him several times in the shoulders, until he finally falls out the window and dies. Terri, you imbecile, the HEAD is your safest bet. Aim for the HEAD. Anyway, naturally we hear the first sounds of sirens the moment after he's dead. She punches her husband, and then we have an epiogue in which she has moved to a new house, has straightened her hair [new life, new hair, it's just the way it is], and has a potential new white blonde best friend in her nanny! At last it ends.
< < < SPOILERS END

Oh dear, it was so very lame, and oh so PG-13. Now, I know that if Terri had followed my advice and brained the fucker immediately or at least gotten the gun the several times he was out, we wouldn't have much of a movie, but wouldn't be fun to have a movie like this that was a real match of wits? Where the woman was really smart and resourceful, and they played mind games that were actually interesting? And who's to say the kids can't have something to do here? The script here is by Aimee Lagos, white woman [who looks like Meg, actually] with mostly crew and script supervisor credits, and... I think she could benefit from a few writing courses. The psychology and here is all one-note and... wouldn't it be interesting if Terri was really attracted to Colin for at least a bit? But so, she's all super-mom and then terrified goodness. He's just male monster, end of story. What if Terri pretended to like him for a while, in order to turn the tables on him? What if he really seemed like a better guy than her husband? Anyway, all nuance and any interesting avenues are left unexplored.

The poor script is paired with lame direction. You know when a movie is going bad and you see certain shots and say: "Why are we looking at that?" There's a lot of that here, as well as a lot of bangs from the storm outside to fill the void in the momentum-free first half. As Terri comes home in the beginning, she drops her phone case, and the camera comes right in to look at it for a second, in such a way that would tell anyone this is going to mean something. But no, it never comes up again. So it's a case of a poor script meeting a door director, but in this case the script is godawful while the direction is just pedestrian.

All in all, a skip. Only something to watch if it's on cable and you really, really have seen EVERYTHING else. I wonder why these movies are so lame... this one is very much like Obsessed, also starring Elba, in which I hoped Ali Larter would really provide some psycho bitchiness, but again, the whole thing ws just muffled. Anyway, at best a time-waster, and you probably don't have the time.

Should you watch it: 

No, basically.