Netflix UK film review: Good People
Inventive use of power tools7
Matthew Turner | On 22, Aug 2015
Director: Henrik Ruben Genz
Cast: James Franco, Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson, Omar Sy, Anna Friel
Watch Good People online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
This West London-based crime thriller is something of a mish-mash, combining a Danish director, a screenplay based on a novel by a Chicago-based author and a cast that includes American, British and French actors. While it’s mostly notable for the sight of two Hollywood stars slumming it in a low budget British thriller (they go jogging in Hanwell, no less), Good People is ultimately something of a slog.
Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz (whose Scandi-crime pedigree includes episodes of The Killing), Good People stars James Franco and Kate Hudson as down-on-their-luck American couple Tom and Anna Wright, who’ve relocated to London after being badly hit by the US financial crisis, but have exhausted the last of their savings trying to renovate a large property that Tom inherited. However, just as Tom receives an eviction order on their flat, the pair discover that their downstairs tenant has died of a drug overdose, leaving a large stack of cash secreted in the apartment.
After agonising for literally minutes over what to do with the money, Tom and Anna decide to keep it, hiding it away and neglecting to mention it to the detective (Tom Wilkinson), when they report the discovery of their tenant’s body. However, unbeknownst to them, the money was stolen from vicious gangster Jack Witkowski (Sam Spruell) and he isn’t above a spot of torturing and kidnapping to get it back.
Franco and Hudson are both on curiously muted form, to the point where you wonder what drew them to the material in the first place, but they have convincing, easy chemistry together and their mutual under-playing actually works in the film’s favour, giving them a world-weary demeanour befitting their reeling-from-financial-woes status.
Elsewhere, Wilkinson is on auto-pilot as the dogged cop, while Spruell makes a suitably nasty villain and French actor Omar Sy (The Intouchables) brings a spot of welcome charm to his urbane drug boss, who goes by the not-very-subtle name of Genghis Khan. However, the film completely wastes the talents of Anna Friel, who’s stuck with an almost insultingly lame supporting role as Anna’s single mum best friend.
Jørgen Johansson’s gloomy cinematography occasionally feels like it’s testing out 50 shades of grey, which makes the film rather dull to look at, although at least it’s representative of London’s weather. Unfortunately, the script drags considerably for the first hour, failing to wring any real dramatic tension from their decision to keep the money and unfairly tipping the balance in their favour by having them be in need of expensive IVF treatment, as well as facing eviction.
The film rallies considerably in the final act, though, devoting the majority of it to an enjoyably gruesome game of cat and mouse with sundry power tools being put to inventive use.
Good People is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.