Average Plot. Average Characters. Average Film.
Whether you regard this as undeniably sub-par theatrical fare or a halfway decent direct-to-video thriller, there’s nothing whatsoever original about Good People’s solid but by-the-numbers plotting.Boasting a surprisingly strong cast for this kind of standard thriller, even the best efforts of James Franco, Tom Wilkinson and Kate Hudson can’t really save this from playing out as just another B-movie crime thriller where almost every piece of the story has been played out before in one film or another. Indeed, were this to have been released in the late 80s / early 90s, amidst some of its most obvious contributors, it might have been a small but relatively popular hit.A quarter of a century later and we just expect more from films than clichéd snarling villains, vulnerable hero couples who are struggling with debt and having no joy getting pregnant, and who clash with said villains over blood money that just falls into their lap. Throw in some corrupt cops, that one good cop, and some bigger villains looking for the smaller villains and you’ve got the staple ingredients of a hell of a lot of films.
Franco and Hudson are questionably convincing as US couple who struck out Stateside and are now struggling with their supposed fresh start renovating an inherited dilapidated house in London, whilst Wilkinson fares better – but is utterly wasted – as the one cop who isn’t actually corrupt (the portrayal of widespread police corruption and bribery, and the proliferation of firearms, makes you wonder whether this originated as a US tale set during the 80s), whilst weasely go-to Brit villain Sam Spruell (Taken 3, Legend, Child 44) tortures his way across London with seeming police-authorised impunity.
It doesn't necessarily do anything wrong, instead wielding a fatal ambivalence towards unoriginality.
With an increasingly preposterous plot, things go to a whole new level once the finale kicks in, unfortunately equally reminiscent of the climax of the Richard Gere / Kim Basinger thriller No Mercy as it is of Home Alone, which is something of a shame when they were probably aiming more for Straw Dogs. In many ways Good People doesn’t actually do anything wrong, but that’s arguably only because it sets its sights so low in terms of original ideas.
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