In No Good Deed, Idris Elba plays Colin Evans, a man responsible for abducting and murdering five women, and who is eventually convicted for killing a man for making a pass at his girlfriend. Five years later, Evans kills two guards and escapes police custody after he is denied parole, returns to his ex-girlfriend’s house, and picks her up by the throat and murders her for not waiting for him before she started fucking other men. After that, Colin feigns a car accident and charms his way into the home of Terri (Taraji P. Henson), whose asshole husband is gone for the weekend, leaving her alone to take care of a baby and their daughter.
All of this happens within the first 10 or 15 minutes of the movie, meaning that there’s well over an hour remaining, which is devoted almost exclusively to watching a hulking, imposing, woman-hating murderer terrorize Terri in her own goddamn home.
That is it. That is the grand sum of No Good Deed. There is nothing original about it. There are no twists. There are no inventive filmmaking techniques or impressive performances. It is straight-up an excuse to watch a physically imposing man bully a smaller woman at her most vulnerable for over an hour, while threatening to kill her 5-year-old daughter and infant baby. Naturally, there are also several opportunities for Elba to remove his shirt, and others for Henson to wear a see-through tank top while she’s not wearing a bra, because obviously what every menacing woman-in-jeopardy film needs is a goddamn sexually charged atmosphere.
Basically, No Good Deed is the PG-13 version of I Spit On Your Grave. There’s no actual rape, but the threat of sexual abuse and domination hangs over the entire film, and the power-dynamic is the exact same as Grave: A huge guy throws a woman around like a rag doll for no other reason than that he can. And when she’s on the brink of death (SPOILER), she gets lucky, locates a gun, and kills her captor. Good for her.
We’re supposed to find that satisfying. We’re supposed think, “Oh Fantastic! She got her revenge!” But mostly it’s just a relief. A relief that it’s over, that we don’t have to watch Elba throw Henson around any longer, or kill any other women. It doesn’t feel like a win for the woman anymore than it felt like a win when the woman in I Spit on Your Grave killed the men who gang-raped her. The fucking damage had already been done, and the assholes who get off on films that depict these situations have already gotten their jollies.
Seriously, is this really the fucking movie we need right now? This fucking week? A film about a violent killer of women who escapes prison only to continue killing women? For NO other reason other than because he can. Because he’s bigger, and they are smaller, and he needs to fucking flaunt his masculinity?
It’s bullshit. It’s pointless, fucking bullshit. It is not entertaining. It is not scary. It is not interesting or necessary. It’s just sadism for the sake of sadism. And fuck everyone involved in this film, including Elba, who should fucking know better.
(P.S. and SPOILER, but the “twist” alluded to in the marketing is that the only reason Henson’s character is targeted is because her husband was sleeping with the ex-girlfriend of Elba’s character, i.e., the woman who he killed in the beginning of the film. I’m not really sure why that’s considered a twist because 1) it was obvious that the husband was probably having an affair, and 2) who fucking cares why he decided to terrorize her?)