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If movies have taught us anything, it's that you don't take a bag of money you happen to come across, especially when the amount is in the hundreds of thousands, because come on... it HAS to belong to corrupt people that are willing to do anything to get it back, only bad things come of it. Greed is the moral of Good People, an ultimately disappointing thriller film based off the novel with the same name, starring James Franco and Kate Hudson as the unfortunate middle class couple who happen upon a bag full of money whom decide to keep it and find themselves pursued by an African crime lord, petty gangsters, and a dogged detective who has an invested interest in the money.
Tom Wright (James Franco) is a handyman contractor for hire, and Anna Wright (Kate Hudson) is a teacher. The couple have decided to have a fresh start after things have gone horribly wrong for them in the U.S. economic crisis. Moving to London, which ironically is one of the most expensive cities to live in. While living in flat, Tom looks to start anew with Anna, by building her what she's always wanted, a dream house to start a family in. Sadly for Tom, his dreams of giving Anna the life he believes she deserves seems to be slipping away when he finds out that he's officially bankrupt after dumping all of their money into the renovations on the house. To make matters worse, Tom receives an eviction notice to vacate the flat they currently reside in.
Tom and Anna discuss their seemingly bleak future and decide to let their subtenant, Ben, know of their situation. They go downstairs into his small portion of the house to discover him dead. They alert the police and one single detective arrives, John Halden (Tom Wilkinson), who questions the couple if they have found anything out of the ordinary. Upon further inspection of Ben's are of the house, Tom uncovers a duffel bag that contains 220,000 pounds (about $355,000 American.) Brushing aside the fact that the money was hidden in a basement with a their shady tenant, The couple decide to take some of the money to help keep them afloat and to pay off the remainder of their house.
Meanwhile, we meet a man named Jack Witkowski (Sam Spruell.) Jack is a petty criminal who was Ben's partner in the heist, he's also looking for the money due to Ben double crossing him and running. The writers quickly establish Jack's ruthless nature when he tortures Ben's friend to find out his location. After this, Jack is quickly hot on Tom and Anna's trail.
Soon Tom is called to a meeting to start construction on another home. Instead he comes face to face with an African drug lord, who refers to himself as Genghis Khan (Omar Sy.) He tells Tom that he was ripped off by Ben of both his money and the drug of choice he is known for, liquid heroin. Khan tells Tom if he does not return his money to him, that he'll burn down everything he cares about.
With Detective Halden, Jack and Khan all closing in on Tom, Anna and the money, Tom decides to make one last ditch effort to get everyone in the same location going to war with one another. While quite a bit of the film is a mess, admittedly, the finale of the movie is one hell of a fun, albeit predictable, finish that can be likened to an adult version of Home Alone.
+ Good performances all around. The lead cast does very well with the material they're given. Franco and Hudson. Omar Sy (see below in the negative column) is wonderful in an underplayed role, and whom gives possibly the best performance in the entire movie despite his limited screen time. Unfortunately, the same can be said about Tom Wilkinson's dogged detective Halden. The surprise of the film though, is Sam Spruell, who does some terrifically creepy work here as the primary antagonist to Tom and Anna.
+ Exciting ending.
+ Decent villains.
- Underutilized supporting cast. The biggest annoyance of this is the treatment of the Khan character. Omar Sy gives a wonderfully subdued performance as a character who never becomes fully realized. Sy is incredibly wasted in the film and that was a shame. The same can be said for Tm Wilkinson.
- Pretty predictable from start to finish.
- Cliché story. How many "couple finds bag of money and decide to keep it, resulting in being hunted by killers" stories are out there?
- While the majority of the film's runtime is indeed fun, there is a lot that is a convoluted mess. One of the biggest examples, Tom and Anna are tracked to a hotel, which they are fully aware of when Jack phones them to make the deal to exchange the money. They not only stay there but also invite Detective Halden there in the morning, have a nice morning chat with him right in front of the hotel to let everybody know they are working with the police.
Video and Audio
Good People is presented in a anamorphic 16x9 full frame format. The images are crisp, clean and sharp throughout, no signs of any grain or visual noise whatsoever. An excellent presentation.
The audio option on the film is a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. The mix is overall quite nice. The sound is subdued in the film's quiet scenes, while the score appropriately amps up for the films action, with nothing being too distracting to take you out of the moment. There were no signs of any distortions or dropouts.
Extras: - Trailers. Overall:
With a proper writer, Good People could have been much better. Outside of a few effective performances and an OK first hour, there's not much to like about this overall disappointing and predictable thriller. Unless you're a huge fan of James Franco and Kate Hudson, I can't really recommend this. Good People got off to an OK start and had an decent ending, but everything in-between was middling, by the numbers, and convoluted. Rent it at most.