Set largely during a blizzard along the Michigan-Canadian border, Deadfall sends a chill of disappointment down the spine.
Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky, who won an Oscar for his 2007 film The Counterfeiters, abandons the subtleties of that picture for the cliches and contrivance of this disjointed crime thriller, penned by first-time screenwriter Zach Dean.
The script is a mess, ricocheting between four narrative threads that only come together in the film’s violent closing act.
That haphazard structure prevents Ruzowitzky from building up any dramatic momentum or forging strong emotional ties between us and the characters.
He thaws our interest slightly with a couple of well-orchestrated action sequences that make excellent use of the icy conditions.
A car crash opens the film with a crash and a bang, and a subsequent snowmobile chase between two cops and a robber across undulating terrain has a satisfyingly grisly and bloody resolution.
Addison (Eric Bana), his sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) and an accomplice pull off a casino heist and speed away along treacherous, snow-laden roads, bound for the Canadian border.
The getaway car swerves to avoid a deer and ends up on its roof.
Addison and Liza stumble out of the wreckage with the loot, determined to evade the cops by hitchhiking separately to the border.
Liza shares a lift with former Olympic boxer Jay Mills (Charlie Hunnam), who has just been released from prison and is heading home for Thanksgiving with his parents Chet (Kris Kristofferson) and June (Sissy Spacek).
Addison takes time out from his flight to freedom to help an abused wife deal with her bullying husband.
Meanwhile, ambitious Sheriff’s Deputy Hannah (Kate Mara) tracks the fleeing criminals but she is constantly held back by her father, Sheriff Marshall T Becker (Treat Williams), who humiliates her in front of the other officers.
Deadfall is a peculiar mish-mash of genres, spiked with graphic violence and gratuitous nudity, that shifts between black comedy, romance and suspense.