Interesting premise, but that’s unfortunately the only genuinely good thing I can say about Good People, a violent thriller starring James Franco and Kate Hudson as an American couple in London who of discover a bag of dirty money.
The film, the feature debut of Danish director Henrik Ruben Genz, starts off relatively well, with a robbery-gone-wrong scenario that leaves a bunch of ruthless criminals desperate to get their hands on money they think they deserve. Enter Tom (Franco) and Anna (Hudson) Wright, a couple who relocated to the UK for a new start after the financial crisis. Things aren’t much better for them in London, but that hasn’t stopped Anna pining for a baby.
Things supposedly make a turn for the better when the couple discover the robbery money, which can make a lot of their financial problems go away. But of course, it also brings along with it a whole bunch of new problems. It’s one of those “What would you do in the same situation?” ideas, and for the first half of the movie or so I understood where they were going with it.
But as the film progressed it started falling into the trap of a typical crappy Hollywood thriller, where things start getting more and more ridiculous and idiotic. There’s a lot of stuff here that fails the smell test of basic logic and common sense, and before long the whole thing crumbles into an expected bloodbath with a predictable and utterly unrealistic ending. Making the couple American while setting the story in the London also didn’t add anything.
Genz’s style is dark and somber, which matches the tone of the film well. He’s also pretty adept at creating tension through visceral violence, which worked to the film’s advantage in the first half until it became a little too much to swallow. There’s just nothing particularly exciting or fresh with his approach though.
As for the performances…I’m not much of a fan of either lead, and they haven’t exactly won me over after watching this movie. Franco was a little better — you can tell he’s trying to put on a serious face — but Hudson was just plain weird. Some of the blame has to go to the script, which made her inconsistent and unlikable. And that’s one of the main problems of the film — you’re not actually rooting for the protagonists to make it out alive because they don’t really deserve to. Tom Wilkinson plays a detective who gets caught up in the mess and he’s just a completely unbelievable character.
In the end, Good People turned out to be a forgettable disappointment. I didn’t have high expectations to begin with, but this was at best a pedestrian DVD rental or late-night cable movie you stumble upon, not a film worthy of a cinematic release.
2 stars out of 5