Good People (15) | Close-Up Film Review
Dir. Henrik Ruben Genz, 2015, 83mins
Cast: James Franco, Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy
Married but childless couple Tom and Anna have relocated from the U.S to London to start a family and create a new life for themselves. Sadly, their imagined ‘happy ever after’ scenario hasn’t quite gone to plan as they find themselves in debt, unable to conceive and struggling to hold down jobs.
Fate puts them in the path of, and on the run from french heroin dealer Khan (Omar Sy) and his thugs after the couple make the mistake of keeping 250 thousand pounds they find in their criminal dead lodgers room. Enter off the clock detective John Holden (Tom Wilkinson), who hounds the couple for the truth while tracking his daughters killer.
There aren’t many good things to say about Good People, so I’ll start with the positives. It’s refreshing to see impossibly good looking American actors against a murky london backdrop, adding a bit a glamour to these normally joyless gangland flicks. The leads, while wasted and clearly all phoning this one in are charismatic enough for Good People to remain at least watchable throughout. The ever brilliant Tom Wilkinson comes off worst here, serving mostly as an exposition dump throughout.
Sam Spruell is easily the best actor in this and oozes dead-eyed menace as a sadist enforcer. He delivers a particularly wince inducing bit of gore in a pool table scene at the midway point.
It’s Shallow Grave-lite plot offers nothing original to this genre, but happily the film does start to forge it’s own path in the third act. The formulaic, cheesy hokum of the first hour gives way to outright silliness and the end. As a result we get treated to some Home Alone styled house trap shenanigans that keep as watching until the film eventual fizzles out at a thankfully lean 83 minutes.
However, beyond the few already mentioned scenes that are worth staying awake for, Good People is mind numbingly mediocre. It’s the type of film where you can pretty much quote along on first watch, such is its predictability. Every twist and turn is obvious, as is its neat, boring resolution.
It’s very difficult to understand what the point of this was or what attracted this talent to such a vanilla project in such a worn genre. It’s complete lack of style feels almost deliberate at times. A few months back, Will Ferrell and Kristin Wigg unleashed their more or less played straight Lifetime movie A Deadly Adoption. This has a similar vibe, and feels like an exercise in genre film-making at the most basic level rather than a genuine attempt to thrill the audience in any meaningful way.
As background noise while you’re doing something more interesting, Good People works. As a thriller with a story and characters you can engage with, it simply does not.
Review by Mark Bartlett