Good People

Posted by Joel Copling on October 7, 2014

"Good People" is a movie made entirely of foregone conclusions. Nothing about this movie subverts one's expectations of it, except perhaps the feeling of indifference upon reaching its credits sequence. There is very little urgency in any of its narrative or action. It is not shocking when the film climaxes with a shootout in a partially-completed home, nor that in the end our protagonists prevail, nor that all of its false drama is so easily remedied by such a shootout. I say this, not to ruin "Good People" for potential viewers, but to bring to their attention the possibility that they know exactly what's going to happen and, very possibly, when. It's honestly a shock to discover that Kelly Masterson's script is based on a novel (written by Marcus Sakey), because this is throwaway, cable-TV stuff to its very core.

If you think I'm mistaken about what you're expecting to happen in the movie, take a gander at the premise: Tom and Anna Wright (James Franco and Kate Hudson) are married and in terrible debt. Tom has a few odd jobs as a landscape architect in London, but he's funneled all of his money into the production of a house in which he and Anna can live (They've been given a two-week eviction notice). When the person renting their basement dies of an overdose, the two find a bag containing over 200,000 quid, which attracts opposing forces Jack (Sam Spruell) and a Frenchman who labels himself "Genghis Khan" (Omar Sy), with Tom, Anna, an English detective named Halden (Tom Wilkinson), and the mother (Anna Friel) of Anna's godson caught in the middle.

So, as you can probably tell, it's easy to see where all of this goes, and that kills any engagement in the material on an emotional level of any kind. It is generally well-made by director Henrik Ruben Genz (making a workmanlike English debut) and a crew who, at least, know how craft a thriller, even one as rudderless as this. The performances are good, with Franco and Hudson making for a solid lead couple to rally behind and Spruell and Sy establishing genuinely threatening (if one-note) major heavies. But the overall effect is minor, the final act showcases a "Home Alone"-type setpiece done with undeniably more skill in the recent Denzel Washington thriller "The Equalizer," and the final minutes are so manipulatively tidy that it wouldn't be out of the question to ask audibly, "Is that all?"

Film Information

James Franco (Tom Wright), Kate Hudson (Anna Wright), Anna Friel (Sarah), Omar Sy ("Genghis Khan"), Tom Wilkinson (Halden), Sam Spruell (Jack Witkowski), Diarmid Murtagh (Marshall), Maarten Dannenburg (Andre), Michael Jibson (Mike Calloway), Diana Hardcastle (Halden's Wife), Oliver Dimsdale (Superintendent Ray Martin), Michael Fox (Bobby Witkowski).

Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz and written by Kelly Masterson, based on the novel by Marcus Sakey.

Rated R (bloody violence, language).

90 minutes.

Released in select cities on September 26, 2014.