15 September 2014 | ghost_dog86
A Black Version of a White Thriller
If they can make 'em for white people, then I guess they can make 'em for black people too. The "em" I am referring to is of course B-movie thrillers, which also falls into the category of: horror/date night fluff. In that same vein, "No Good Deed" is also predictable fluff; like, killer in the house and the girl runs upstairs, kind of predictable fluff. But I can't deny that I was fairly entertained by "No Good Deed"; even as all logic (ALL LOGIC) flew out the window about 20 minutes in, when (on a dark and stormy night) a black woman lets a strange black man into her home and offers him a change of clothes. Come on now; that would never happen.
From the trailers alone "No Good Deed" stunk of a Tyler Perry production; an insensitive black husband, his supremely intelligent yet shockingly under-appreciated black wife, and a man with anger management issues who is noticeably darker than the rest of the cast. Even as the film began, everything about it had the markings of something pretty "basic". An escaped convict (Idris Elba) with a history of violence towards women, harasses a woman (Taraji P. Henson) who is conveniently home alone. Yes, there is a twist at the end that is a bit too clever for this premise, but aside from that, the structure of "No Good Deed" is quite similar to films we've all seen before; only this time targeted at an African American audience, with Henson playing the part of the dumb blond
that is, until she says: "ENOUGH!" That said, the only thing which separates a "basic" movie from a watchable movie with a basic premise, is the filmmaker's execution and the actors involved.
While it is somewhat curious as to why Elba would star in a movie like this at this point in his career (and also hold a producer credit) for how one dimensional his character is, he does sell it with a performance that is brutally and relentlessly intimidating. As for the supporting cast, it is what it is. Henson screams when she is supposed to and acts sassy when Idris gives her just a bit too much lip. The script also contains more than enough "urban" attitude, which, along with Elba's menacing presence going toe to toe with Henson's "I'm Every Woman" performance, gives audiences those yell at the screen moments they paid to see.
The direction from Sam Miller is really what makes this movie what it is, as he simply does what he is asked to do, delivering a surprisingly high amount of tension throughout
and nothing more. Now, I don't want to heap too much praise on Miller's work, since what he has made is simply the cinematic equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But there is something to be said for a well-executed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Final Thought: At the end of the day "No Good Deed" may only work to reinforce the of stereotype of the "angry black man", but due to a good hour of well-constructed, tension driven sequences, followed by a few chase sequences, I fail to see how anybody wouldn't find this experience entertaining on some B-movie level. At the very least, "No Good Deed" is far far FAR more entertaining than the latest Kevin Hart movie or the annual "Tyler Perry Presents: Black People Acting a Fool" production.