No Good Deed (2014)

(Netflix Streaming, October 2016) What happens when you drop two good (even underrated) actors in a generic formula film? You get something that’s worth watching even if the film itself is almost entirely forgettable. After all, it doesn’t get more hackneyed that a home-invasion thriller in which a dangerous escaped criminal fixates on a woman left alone at home—during a storm, no less! But, with some capable directing and Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henderson arguably slumming in the lead roles, No Good Deed becomes almost watchable despite a blatantly predictable plot and much nonsense along the way. I’m really not fond of the way that the film ends up tying both the aggressor and the victim together—it’s a far scarier concept to imagine just a random criminal—but I’ll allow it in the spirit of hackneyed plotting. Elba is far too good to play one-dimensional criminal, but he does it so well that it’s hard to be mad at him. Meanwhile, Henderson has a far more interesting role as the victim who ends up protecting her children while fighting back at the aggression, even when it moves away from her house. No Good Deed isn’t much more than B-grade exploitation filmmaking, but thanks to its lead actors it remains compelling throughout, which is a great deal better than other movies of its ilk.

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