Dir: Stefan Ruzowitzky. US. 2012. 95mins


Marking the US debut of Oscar-winning Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky, Deadfall is a Coen-esque crime thriller with a nicely edgy tone and a handsome widescreen look. The strength-in-depth cast may not lead to big domestic box office numbers but it should help the film get some deserved attention in ancillary and international markets.

Ruzowitzky - whose 2007 crime drama The Counterfeiters won the foreign language film Oscar – makes atmospheric use of the northern landscape and weather.

Premiered at April’s Tribeca festival, the film (also titled as Kin, Blackbird or Cold Blood at different stages) opened in Germany and a few smaller international markets last month. A limited December 7 US theatrical opening through Magnolia Pictures should help promote the title’s early availability on domestic VOD.

In his first produced script, screenwriter Zach Dean weaves a family theme into his crime-gone-wrong plot. After taking a big haul in a casino robbery but crashing the getaway car, siblings Addison (played by Eric Bana) and Liza (Tron: Legacy’s Olivia Wilde) are trying to make it to the Canadian border during a near whiteout blizzard.

Liza hitches a ride with ex-boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam, from cable’s Sons Of Anarchy) and tags along on a tense holiday visit to his parents (Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek). Addison’s violent trail leads to the same isolated house and the two families - plus a visiting female cop (happythankyouplease’s Kate Mara) - end up sitting down at gunpoint to a bizarre Thanksgiving meal. 

Ruzowitzky — whose 2007 crime drama The Counterfeiters won the foreign language film Oscar – makes atmospheric use of the northern landscape and weather and handles the love triangle between femme fatale Liza, creepily over protective Addison and bruised Jay with a deft touch.

Bana (last seen in 2011 thriller Hanna) gives an expertly shaded performance and Kristofferson, Spacek and Treat Williams (playing the father of Mara’s cop) add dramatic weight.

The film’s weakness is that it pushes the balance between character and plot towards the latter, leaving some characters - most notably the morally ambiguous Addison - seeming underexplored.

Production companies: 2929 Productions, Mutual Film Company, Studio Canal

US distribution: Magnolia Pictures 

International sales: Studio Canal, www.studiocanal.com

Producers: Gary Levinsohn, Shelly Clippard, Ben Cosgrove, Todd Wagner

Executive producers: Mark Cuban, Josette Perrotta, Adam Kolbrenner, Winfried Hammacher, Olivier Courson, Ron Halpern

Screenplay: Zach Dean

Director of photography: Shane Hurlbut

Production designer: Paul Denham Austerberry

Editors: Arthur Tarnowsky, Dan Zimmerman

Music: Marco Beltrami

Website: www.magpictures.com/deadfall

Main cast: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Kate Mara, Treat Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek