I consider Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson as two of today’s most capable actors. Elba is becoming more of a household name thanks to his appearances in Marvel’s universe, and his highly regarded turn as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Henson remains as someone who makes you breathe a sigh of relief when they suddenly grace the screen in middling fare like Date Night and Larry Crowne. She has a great presence.
What drew these strong performers to the trashy No Good Deed is a bit of a stumper. Maybe they saw potential in an early draft of Aimee Lagos screenplay, or maybe they just wanted to let loose and have fun. Elba’s contribution makes me wonder if he guiltily enjoys these kinds of cheesy thrillers. First, he starred in Obsessed with Beyoncé as a businessman who was being charmed by a sleazy, flirty lass. Now, in No Good Deed, he’s a scummy criminal who has a hidden agenda and a knack for being deceitful towards women. If he submits a third film, he’ll have his own personal “Trashy Trilogy”.
It wasn’t a surprise to see that No Good Deed has another connection to Obsessed: producer William Packer. Is it weird that I can picture Elba and Packer exchanging steamy romance novels they picked up at airports? Is it unhealthy that I can envision them debating whether or not Fabio’s appearance on the cover art makes for a surefire, sexy winner? Allow me to answer those questions: no and yes.
But, alas, just as how Obsessed was, No Good Deed is entertaining in a scandalous way. By no means is it a polished feat, but it makes for a good time if you’re looking for a movie where you can laugh and yell back at the screen. Try and find a sort-of recommendation that’s more wishy-washy and halfhearted than that. Go for it.
The most credible attribute of No Good Deed is Henson, who also served as an executive producer on this farce. She makes a memorable impression with her interpretation of a damsel in distress. She’s tormented by Colin (played by Elba), and is put through excruciating lengths for him to get a sense of payback. An anti-climactic reveal will make all of this clear.
Terry (played by Henson) is shown hardly any respect by her workaholic husband and is shown in shambles as she moves into a new house while looking after her kids. When the film gets to be tense with cat-and-mouse chases, she protects her kids and strategizes in ways that are actually quite thoughtful. Henson doesn’t devolve the character into a shrieking cliche, and rather makes her a strong, independent woman who’s easy to root for. Meanwhile, Elba milks and mugs through every scene he’s in, but maybe that’s because the antagonist in the latest rag he picked up at LAX is making him drool.