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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » No Good Deed
No Good Deed
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // November 11, 2003
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by James W. Powell | posted October 30, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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THE FILM
I love reading the back cover of DVDs. Whoever writes these things can make anything sound good. For example, the jacket of No Good Deed states that the film is "a sexy pulse-pounding thriller." Well, after watching the movie, I can assure you it is neither sexy (although Milla Jovovich certainly is) nor pulse-pounding. Heck, I'm not even sure it can be labeled a thriller.

Jack (Samuel L. Jackson) is a cop in desperate need of a vacation, and is packed for a week at a music "fantasy camp." Unfortunately, before he can depart, he decides to help a neighbor by looking for her runaway daughter. After helping an elderly woman after her stumble, he finds himself in the most unfortunate of situations, as he's bound to a chair by a group of apparent bank robbers.

At this point, the film becomes a little humorous, although unintentionally. See, the group is planning a heist, but because Jack showed up, they have to move the job up a day. But the elderly woman (Grace Zabriskie) won't hear of it. At least, not until they have lunch. Why the elderly woman and her husband (Joss Ackland) are even a part of the team is beyond comprehension. They come across as nothing more than a poor gimmick to throw something "different" into the same ol' tired story. Their one-liners or whacky natures do nothing but give the film a surreal feel, which simply doesn't fit.

But the bigger question isn't why these two are in the group, but why Tyrone (Stellan Skarsgard), the supposed mastermind behind the team, the leader, the one who has all the power, would allow them to waste time when $10 million was at stake? Throughout the film he's looking at his watch because they're on a timetable, but not once does he make anyone obey that schedule. On top of that, why wouldn't the nutty, ultra-violent Hoop (Doug Hutchison) simply kill Jack so they could go back to the normal plan? As it turns out, plot point after plot point becomes another scene that's incredibly hard to swallow.

Easily the most unbelievable aspect of this story is Jack's relationship with Erin (Jovovich), Tyrone's sad, lonely, and apparently mistreated girlfriend. While the others rob the bank, Erin is left behind to watch Jack. But she doesn't have the heart to see him tied up like that, so she plays the piano for him. Suddenly their relationship has blossomed, and she unties him so they can make music together. Jack's love is so powerful that he doesn't run or grab the gun. Maybe it was that sip of wine? Or maybe Erin's long legs? Either way, it's absolutely ridiculous. It's laughable. How did this guy ever get on the police force, anyway?

The essence of a good story is here (the film is based on a story by Dashiell Hammett), and the film features a good cast. Sadly, none of this could overcome the many unbelievable actions taken by the characters. In other words, the film doesn't work, no matter what the DVD cover says.

THE VIDEO
Not only does the cover's teaser send the wrong message, it also gets the video aspect ratio wrong. Well, sort of. The cover states that the film is presented in 1.33:1, but it also states, in smaller print, that the widescreen version preserves the films original ratio of 1.85:1. Unfortunately, the DVD only has the full frame version. And to be honest, it's not that great. The image is clean, but it lacks solid detail. There's a general fuzziness to the picture. Luckily, the grain isn't overly intrusive. Colors look good, particularly the blacks, but they don't really stand out with vibrancy. It's an acceptable print, but that's about it.

THE AUDIO
Columbia TriStar presents No Good Deed in 5.1 Dolby Digital and it sounds pretty good. Voices are crisp and easily understood, and the music is deep and clear. The rears are used solely for ambiance, and the low end doesn't come into play that often. Despite it being a "pulse-pounding thriller," it's actually a pretty quiet film.

THE BONUS FEATURES
Nothing here. What do you expect from a disc without widescreen?

THE MENUS
Static images from the film. Definitely nothing that would get you excited for this "sexy thriller."

FINAL THOUGHTS
No Good Deed fails despite a decent story idea and despite a solid cast. This DVD, which features only a full frame version of the film and no extras, does nothing to improve my recommendation. Rent it, but only if you have lots of time and money to spare.

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