No Good Deed Movie Review

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A closer look at No Good Deed reveals a lot of sad truths. You realize that the once terrific Samuel L. Jackson is quickly becoming this generation's Ernest Borgnine, grabbing any role that comes his way. It dawns on you that director Bob Rafelson's last movie of impact was Five Easy Pieces and that was 33 years ago. You nearly shed a tear that Stellan Skarsgård and Doug Hutchison (Percy in The Green Mile), both good actors, are stuck in a barely released feature.

Based on a Dashiell Hammett short story ("The House on Turk Street"), the movie has Jackson playing Jack Friar, a cop who is cajoled into looking for his neighbor's lost girl. While chasing leads, Jackson helps an old lady with her groceries and inadvertently stumbles upon a gang's hideout. He's konked on the noggin, tied up, and supervised by the gang's stock femme fatale, Erin (Milla Jovovich).

While the rest of the gang (which includes Skarsgård and Hutchison) tries to complete an embezzlement scheme, Friar and Erin get to know each other. She confides that the Skarsgård character abuses her, but she just can't get away. A bond forms, helped by Erin saving his life and accompanying him on a classical piece.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. The dame plays the piano (she was a prodigy in her native Russia), and the cop fiddles a mean cello. If that part sounds a little ridiculous, get this: In the movie, Friar is a diabetic. Having lapsed into unconsciousness, Erin grabs Friar's keys and wallet and hightails it to his apartment to grab insulin. Revived, Friar awakens to find his cello case staring at him.

I can understand why Erin rushed to Friar's apartment, but what possessed her to grab the cello case? And how did Erin -- Jovovich is built like a shapely broom -- lug that case and get back to the house on time? It doesn't make an ounce of sense to me.

Maybe Rafelson and the screenwriters were commenting on how Erin was trying to save herself through music. Of course, that theory goes straight to hell the longer you watch the movie. The plot's credibility strains like Anna Nicole Smith in an A cup. First, how did the thieves land the house they're staying in? It's awfully polished (the backyard garden is a landscaper's dream) for a hideout. Wouldn't a gang of globe-trotting thieves reside somewhere a little less conspicuous?

The bank scam itself is where everything falls apart. Hutchison's character, under the guise of a repairman, is able to walk unattended into a city bank and shut down the building's power. Meanwhile, that same character -- who's described on several occasions as stupid -- accomplishes the feat by apparently hacking into the bank's computer system.

You get the distinct feeling watching No Good Deed that at one point everyone involved stopped caring. The acting is no different. Jackson acts as if on a permanent glum trip, bringing no energy to his role, and his acting decision cancels out Jovovich's attempts to be the next Linda Fiorentino. It takes two to seduce. Hutchison and Skarsgård both go the loosely-hinged psychotic route, so their performances have no impact.

Without a single riveting character, the proceedings quickly become boring and useless, especially when the last 20 minutes feature a series of gratuitous twists and turns. The movie does one thing well. You really understand Jackson's predicament. Stick around long enough and it's a safe bet that you'll feel like you're being held hostage, too.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , , , , André Rouleau, Maxime Rémillard

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No Good Deed Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2003

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