Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Franco, Kate Hudson, Anna Friel, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy, Sam Spruell, Diarmaid Murtagh, Michael Jibson
Written by: Kelly Masterson, based on a novel by Marcus Sakey
Directed by: Henrik Ruben Genz
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence and language
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/26/2014

Good People (2014)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'Good' Grief

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Good People comes from good stock. Director Henrik Ruben Genz is an Oscar nominee for Best Live Action Short, and made the very good crime film Terribly Happy (2008). Screenwriter Kelly Masterson -- who adapted Marcus Sakey's novel -- previously wrote Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Snowpiercer. Even the cast includes some very talented, Oscar-nominated people. But the finished movie feels like a half-hearted jumble, full of lazy shortcuts.

An American couple, Tom (James Franco) and Anna Wright (Kate Hudson), is living in England, trying to fix up an old house, but falling into debt. When their downstairs tenant mysteriously dies of an overdose, the couple finds a hidden satchel full of cash, and they decide to keep it. A police detective, John Halden (Tom Wilkinson) begins snooping around, and Tom gets a call from a dangerous gangster (Omar Sy), who suspects that he has the money. When thugs show up at their place and threaten them, Tom and Anna realize that they must come up with a plan to save their necks. But how can a normal couple fight an army of brutal bad guys?

The main characters don't generate much sympathy, since they rush too quickly into trouble. The bad guys, on the other hand, never seem to be in sync; why would the big boss himself show up at the big showdown, gun in hand? At other times, no one really seems to be in charge or have any idea what's going on. Tom Wilkinson comes out the best, since his character has a motivation, although that's about all he has. Good People falters even more when compared to the similar A Simple Plan, a much sharper, smarter, and more emotional movie.

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