Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde play brother and sister crooks, who are on the run from a casino heist gone wrong when a deer hits their windscreen and their car crashes. They escape with the loot from the wreckage in snowy landscapes and split up to avoid the cops and make their way to, they hope, eventual safety together.
That’s the idea anyway, but Wilde meets and falls for a hunky and surprisingly sensitive ex-con boxer (Charlie Hunnam) also on the run from the law and Bana has close shaves with various locals and members of the law, killing one and all as he goes. Everybody who isn’t already dead ends up at the house of Hunnam’s parents (Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson) to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner! The sheriff (Treat Williams) and his daughter (Kate Mara) hove up there too.
There are some really good things in this crazy, ambitious and confident thriller, that ironically stumbles through trying too hard, trying to pack far, far too much in a short (95-minute) running time, and succeeds in just feeling so overloaded that it comes over as a bit of a cluttered mess. It’s sad to complain about any movie that there’s too much going on, but there is here, and even so it is still too talky in places!
In particular, the script’s afflicted by a precarious heavyweight burden of too many stories of dysfunctional families and abusive fathers or father figures. It may be that it’s there in each plot strand intentionally to give the script a chance to develop a theme, or perhaps it’s just be there for a smart-feeling symmetry, but in any case it’s easy to get fed up with dysfunctional families!
Treat Williams’s sheriff character, among others, is totally undeveloped, sidelined and more or less just forgotten about. Also stranded in a cardboard role, Kate Mara, playing his feisty cop daughter, is dreary. So the film profitably could have completely dispensed with these characters, giving the rest room to breathe.
On the other hand though, main star Eric Bana is fired up and gives a thoroughly entertaining and weirdly (as he’s playing a psycho) likeable performance. He’s best thing in it, managing to be chilling and menacing when needed and funny as required. Spacek’s amusing too as the deranged mother who just carries on her Thanksgiving party as though there’s no gun pointing at her, but a mumbling Kristofferson wearily phones in his performance and Hunnam and Wilde, though pleasant and appealing, don’t light too many sparks either.
Still, the film’s always lively, interesting and entertaining enough, and certainly looks great with those icy views imaginatively used to create a visually stylish experience. Played for black humour, the finale at the Thanksgiving dinner is highly entertaining, the several action set-piece scenes are properly exciting and the sequences on the snow bikes are eye-catching and smartly handled.
© Derek Winnert 2013 Movie Review
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