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Film Review: 'No Good Deed'

Jillian Baker |
September 14, 2014 | 8:28 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson star in No Good Deed (Screen Gems)
Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson star in No Good Deed (Screen Gems)
If you told me that the broad-shouldered, swagged out, sensual piece of chocolate that is Idris Elba would show up at my doorstep one stormy night, you’d be a fool if you thought that I wouldn’t open the door.

Now that I’ve seen "No Good Deed," I might give it a second thought.

In this new thriller directed by Sam Miller, starring Elba and Taraji P. Henson, Elba plays Colin-–a maniacal, convicted killer that terrorizes state prosecutor turned housewife, Terri (Henson). In the incipient stages of the film, the audience learns that Colin is up for parole – five years after his crimes.

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But let’s just say the parole hearing doesn’t go too well and he manages to escape. It’s not long before he “stumbles” upon Terri’s suburban abode, asking to use her telephone after an accident.

And of course, Terri’s unappreciative and neglectful husband (Henry Simmons) happens to leave his wife and two defenseless children for a golfing trip the night of a major storm. Enter, Colin. 

After two hours of random conversation (okay, maybe 30 minutes), let the terrorizing expected in a thriller commence. The buildup to the action is undeniably slow. For a while it seems that Colin just wants to sip tea with Terri and talk about the pursuit of happiness.

Granted, there are suspenseful moments that occur (car alarms go off, a window breaks, etc.) but nevertheless Aimee Lagos’ script leaves audience members wondering, “What does Colin actually want? Why is it taking Terri so long to realize that she might have a deranged man in her house with her two children?”

Another hole in the script that just cannot be ignored is, “If Colin – one of the most notorious criminals in state history – is up for parole and has just escaped…why wasn’t his ex-fiancée notified? Where is the media coverage? Where are Agent Hotchner and the BAU? But I digress. 

With a mere facial twitch and a menacing stare, Elba transforms into the crazed killer that elicits both a sense of power and suspense. He’s not marginalized into a sex-crazed black brute that media and society often select as the appropriate category for the black man. 

Colin is an intelligent and charming individual, but I won’t ignore the fact that he is referred to as a “vicious animal” at the very beginning of the film.

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And oh no, this wasn’t the only instance of subliminal messaging in the movie. Is it coincidence that Colin’s sexual preference is fairer-skinned women, yet in regards to Terri he remarks with disgust “don’t flatter yourself”? I think not. It’s appalling that Hollywood is perpetuating themes of black women’s undesirability and is using black faces to do so.

Despite the few cringe-worthy lines present in the script, Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson still bring great performances to the screen. As a veteran actress, Henson always brings elements of her feisty personality to her roles. With such a natural delivery, she can do no wrong.

Overall, "No Good Deed" is a movie worth seeing if you are looking for suspense, a few laughable moments and a great plot twist that will make you gasp. It may have a few quirks, but what scary movies nowadays don’t?

"No Good Deed" is currently in theaters.

Reach Staff Reporter Jillian Baker here.



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