A knife-thrust of a film, Deadfall has the feel of Fargo with less laughs and more bloodshed.
It intros its central players, brother and sister Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde), in the aftermath of their botched casino heist. It’s clear from the outset that Addison is more serial killer than bumbling thief; he slays with impunity, blasting cops and citizens alike as he makes his escape.
It’s also clear that he and his sis may have a slightly unhealthy relationship.
Following a car accident in the thick of a blizzard, the siblings decide to split the dosh and make their separate ways to the Canadian border.
Addison goes on a killing spree while Liza is picked up by paroled boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), fresh from a messy showdown with the man who framed him.
Naturally, Liza and Jay fall in love – or at least in torrid, criminal-minded lust.
Eventually, it all comes to a head via the Thanksgiving dinner from hell. Everything’s mean, cold and hard in Deadfall ’s world.
The characters, the inhospitable environment, the mood, the relentless gray tones... even the skeletal ghost-folk on the soundtrack.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky (best known for 2007 foreign language Oscar-winner The Counterfeiters ) slithers between ice-caked stalk’n’slash and pressure-cooker family feuds with sure-handed slickness, leaving little time to catch your breath between one awful, hopeless situation and the next.
There are times when the film tips into gory, exploitative overkill – the icky incest overtones, the bone-crunching murder scenes – but it’s rarely less than gripping.
Given the thumbnail nature of the character development, there’s not much to do besides glower, whimper, kill, or die, but Bana (iffy southern accent aside) stands out as the steely, leering psychopath – as does Sissy Spacek as Jay’s put-upon mum.
And if the mid-movie snowmobile chase seems more like something from an ’80s Bond than a gritty noir, it still does its pulse-jolting job.