Home » Years » 2014 » No Good Deed •••

No Good Deed •••

No_Good_Deed_2014_movie_posterStarring: Taraji P. HensonIdris ElbaLeslie Bibb
Director: Sam Miller
Screenplay: Aimee Lagos
Crime/Thriller, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 84 minutes
Release Date: September 12, 2014

Terri: Single, P-PP Emotional, Pro (Classic Lone Hero)

Colin: Single, N-N Moral, Ant (Untransformed Lone Villain)


 reel-3 villain-3villain-half  h-logo-3

(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

Greg, we just saw a movie about a no-good dude.

And if no good deed goes unpunished, then indeed, we were punished for watching.

Let’s recap. Inmate Colin Evans (Idris Elba) is being transported back to prison from his parole hearing, where he was denied parole. He is serving time for brutally killing several people. During his return trip to prison, Evans manages to shoot the driver and a guard. He then escapes successfully to Atlanta. There he meets up with his former fiance and confronts her about her new lover. After killing her, we see him driving his car in a rainstorm. His car crashes into a tree, and he seeks refuge at the door of a nearby home owned by Terri Henson (Taraji P. Henson) and her baby.

Colin is charismatic and smiles his way into the home and out of the rain by feigning the need to call for a tow truck. When Terri’s best friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) arrives, Colin has some fast thinking to do. But Meg is not convinced of Colin’s good intentions and confronts him. Meanwhile, Terri realizes that Colin is not so harmless and he begins to chase her through the house. Now it’s a battle of wits as Terri must find a way to call for help before Colin can accomplish his dastardly plan.

Greg, No Good Deed is a by-the-numbers story of survival at the hands of a vicious killer. This story has been told countless times before, but what distinguishes No Good Deed is that it features a strong African-American female hero who must use both her wits and her strength of character to extricate herself from danger. Taraji Henson does a nice job portraying the role of Terri, and a number of her Great Eight characteristics of heroes truly shine through. She is strong, smart, caring, selfless, resilient, and inspiring.

The first 15 minutes of the movie led me to believe that the villain, Colin Evans, was going to be the hero (or anti-hero) of the story. We, the audience, are provided with more of his backstory than that of Terri. But soon the movie wisely shifts to Terri as the movie’s main focus, and we become impressed with her selfless devotion to placing the safety of her two children before her own. As I said, this isn’t a great movie by any means, but it does manage to pull us into the drama and leave us wondering how Terri is going to survive.

I have to agree with you, Scott – this is a good movie with a strong female lead. The other thing that distinguishes this movie from others is that Terri fears for her life and the lives of her children, only to discover that Colin’s goal has nothing to do with Terri. There’s a point in the film (that is shared in the trailer) where Colin chastises Terri by saying, ‘I would have thought with all those brains you got, you woulda figured out what game we’re playing.’ It isn’t the standard game of cat and mouse.

Terri is a good hero – she is smarter than the average damsel in distress. And she stands up to her captor. She doesn’t just run screaming through the house (although there is a bit of that). She *is* smart and she makes plans to escape.

Colin makes for a good villain, too. He’s every bit as smart and determined as our hero. And that is critical for a good villain story. We are given a good deal of his backstory so we know where his anger comes from. Although, he is set up as a “malignant narcissist” by the parole board – we don’t get any insight into what created such a person. So I can give points for setting up our villain – and I have to take one away for embedding the fact that Colin is … crazy.

I enjoyed Colin as a villain more than I thought I would. During his parole hearing at the beginning of the movie, I felt for him and believed him to be genuinely repentant. He has those kind eyes and shows a kind of enigmatic intelligence. But when the bodies started piling up, I was sadly forced to abandon the idea that he is simply misunderstood. I like the fact that his character has a curious appeal even when we know he’s a psychopathic murderer.

Another virtue of this movie is witnessing the palpable chemistry between Terri and Colin. Her courage in standing up to him is borderline foolhardy but serves her and her children quite well. One unfortunate negative is the number of times that Terri skewers him, crushes his head, shoots him, and maims him, while he does his best Ever-Ready battery impression by still ticking. We also get the standard Fatal Attraction miracle revival of the seemingly dead villain. One day I hope the movies finally put this hackneyed gimmick to bed for good.

Yeah, I noticed that too. I liked this movie, but the twist at the end didn’t warrant a higher rating. It’s a classic thriller with some upgrades. I give No Good Deed 3 out of 5 Reels.

Terri is a good hero but still not above average. What I appreciated about her was that she wasn’t a typical damsel in distress. She was smart and strong. But I can only give her 3 out of 5 Heroes.

Colin is painted better than the average villain. He has all the great qualities of the hero plus a diabolical tendency toward “malignant narcissism”. But he can only garner 3 out of 5 Villains.

Movie: reel-3 Villain: villain-3 Hero: h-logo-3

No Good Deed is a fairly well constructed thriller that gives us a strong woman character who delights us with her brains, her inner strength, and her selflessness. This movie features good tension, good pacing, and good acting. No Good Deed is far from great but it provided 90 minutes of solid entertainment. Like you, Greg, I give this film 3 Reels out of 5.

The hero Terri is inspiring to watch. She embodies many of the signature characteristics of a hero, but her Joseph-Campbell-like hero journey is stunted. There is no mentor figure, for example; she’s left entirely to her own devices. I’m not convinced that she transforms in any significant way, either. So we’re left with a pretty good hero but not a great one, at least not in the classic sense.  I’m with you, Greg, that she merits 3 Heroes out of 5.

The villain Colin is a major focus of this movie. He’s a complex man with a motive for his mayhem. No Good Deed does a good job of portraying the villain’s story with greater depth than we see in most movies. His fatal flaw lies in his underestimation of our hero Terri. Colin’s intelligence, deceptiveness, magnetism, and complexity make him formidable villain with considerable texture, in my opinion. I’m awarding him 4 Villains out of 5.

 Movie: reel-3 Villain: villain-4 Hero: h-logo-3

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