Idris Elba, a Golden Globe winner, and Taraji P. Henson, an Oscar nominee, have somehow landed themselves in a pretty bad movie called "No Good Deed." How bad is it? The studio, Screen Gems, scheduled a screening for critics earlier this week and then thought better of it, abruptly canceling the night before. The official reason given was a concern that the thriller's final plot-twist might leak out before the film's release.
What could it be? Elba plays Colin Evans, a convicted killer who escapes from a Tennessee prison and makes his way to Atlanta. There, on a dark and stormy night, he seeks shelter at 17 Crescent Lane, where Terry (Henson) is home alone with her grade-school daughter and newborn son. Posing as a stranded motorist, Colin uses charm and flattery to get through Terry's door, but it won't be long before things turn ugly.
Perhaps there's more to this situation than meets the eye. After all, it's an odd coincidence that Terry was once a prosecutor; her absent husband, Jeffrey (Henry Simmons), is also a lawyer. After a glass or two of wine, Colin mysteriously claims that he's met Terry before. Even Terry's neighbor Meg (Leslie Bibb) suspects a connection between them. Is it possible that Colin didn't commit the crimes he's been accused of? And is there any meaning to this movie's portentous title?
Director Sam Miller tries to liven up this "Cape Fear" knock-off with some shadowy lighting and a bit of sexual frisson between his two stars, but there isn't much to be done about Aimee Lagos' barely-there script. Elba spends a lot of time showing off his physique but rarely gets to flex his acting muscles, while Henson's Terry is little more than a stick figure in distress. Cast and crew alike feel as though they're limping along toward the movie's end.
Speaking of which, the final plot twist is about as fiendishly clever as an episode of "General Hospital." Is that a spoiler? You're welcome.
PLOT An escaped convict shows up at the house of a suburban mother.
RATING PG-13 (violence, language)
CAST Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson
BOTTOM LINE Two fine actors wasted in a plodding thriller.