“No Good Deed” is a mediocre thriller starring Idris Elba as an escaped con terrorizing a housewife (Taraji P. Henson) on the proverbial dark and stormy night. Opened in the U.S. and Canada by Sony without press previews, and reportedly shot more than two years ago, this uninspired effort has nonetheless performed above expectations, and is projected to gross as high as $25 million by the end of its Sept. 12 opening weekend.
Colin Evans (Elba) was strongly suspected of guilt in the disappearance and presumed deaths of five young women, but evidence could only be found to convict him on one barroom-brawl manslaughter charge. Five years later he’s up for parole, but when the board reviewing his case denies his release, he violently escapes from the van taking him back to prison. After paying a visit to a former g.f. (Kate del Castillo) who’s understandably not at all pleased to see him, he crashes his stolen car and lands on the suburban Georgia doorstep of Henson’s Terri.
She’s a former state prosecutor turned unhappy stay-at-home mom to two young children, particularly since her lawyer husband (Henry Simmons) neglects them all. As he’s taken off for a golfing weekend, she’s alone with the kids when Colin shows up, pretending to be an innocent crash victim who just needs to call a tow truck. After a long buildup in which Terri’s flirtatious BFF Alexis (Leslie Bibb) stops by for a predictably ill-fated “girls’ night,” our heroine begins to grasp she’s dealing with one very dangerous “malignant narcissist” (as a court expert put it) at around the 50-minute mark.
The ensuing action is tamely PG-13 in terms of graphic violence, and despite competent performances and packaging, the dialogue and situations in Aimee Lagos’ script are too routine to create much excitement. Nor does Brit TV veteran Sam Miller (making his first theatrical feature in 15 years) contribute much in the way of notable style, atmosphere or suspense. With tech/design contributions equally pro but undistinguished, the overall effect is dullish and forgettable.