Review: 'Deadfall' starring Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde

Deadfall seems to have tricked a lot of people with the promise of its talented ensemble, and the potential of its Academy Award-winning director. But that's all it turns out to be, a bunch of broken promises and unfulfilled potential, as the film's slight plot seems pieced together with spit and bailing wire, taking from a myriad of different ideas that would make for compelling individual features but an unsatisfying whole. At first glance the snowy backdrop and oppressive atmosphere hint at a capable dark and violent crime saga, but what we get is a silly and fractured mess that should have everyone involved looking for new agents.

Stefan Ruzowitzky has taken a drastic step backwards since taking home Oscar gold for The Counterfeiters back in 2007, never finding a consistent tone but maintaining a pace as thick as the snowdrift that blankets every frame. But it's nothing compared to his cast, who snooze their way through banal dialogue and shaky Southern accents, with Olivia Wilde looking like she's secretly wondering when her career went from "popular" to "overexposed". Beginning with a well-staged car crash made more brutal by the harsh elements and murky cinematography, we discover the three occupants of the vehicle were the perpetrators of a casino heist. Addison(Eric Bana) and his sister Liza(Wilde) have survived, only to murder a cop moments later, and after some unsettling, incestuous conversation decide to split up and find shelter. So instantly Ruzowitzky and screenwriter Zach Dean are juggling two separate storylines, but they aren't content until there are at least three more added into the mix, none of which gets the sorely needed attention.

Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam plays parolee Jay, who literally within hours of being set free has already gotten back in trouble by beating to death his ex-boxing trainer. Now on the run and hoping to spend Thanksgiving with his parents, played unfortunately by screen vets Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson, Jay happens across a freezing Liza and picks her up. Don't worry your head too much about that whole murder rap hanging over Jay's head. It doesn't factor much into the story, and it actually appears to be totally forgotten until an off-hand remark late in the film. It has no bearing on all of the boring stuff that happens later. Addison treks across the frozen wilds occasionally butchering the innocents he runs across, while other times hanging out with them and dispensing weird advice. Meanwhile Liz and Jay play cutesy in what one can only be the world's worst courtship, as she refuses to reveal her true identity while he can barely mutter an intelligible word. It's clear that Liza has been badly damaged by whatever her relationship is with Addison, but the film has no interest in exploring that with any depth.

The always-excellent Kate Mara turns up as a small town police officer with daddy issues, while Spacek and Kristofferson muddle through a hostage situation as undercooked as the holiday turkey. It's hard to know exactly where this film is coming from, and since none of the characters are developed to any degree, it's even harder to find a reason to care. As all the disparate pieces finally converge in a flurry of campy confrontations, we finally get a glimpse of what Deadfall could have been with steadier direction and a less serious demeanor, but by then it's far too late.