Good People Blu-ray Review: Good People, So-So Movie

Good People treads the rather well worn theme of greed making good people turn bad, greed specifically in this case being money. The story starts out with a drug deal double-cross gone bad, and the double-crosser turns up dead of an overdose a couple days later in his London flat. When the landlords Tom (James Franco) and Anna (Kate Hudson) venture into their tenant’s apartment to ask him to turn down his blaring television, they find the corpse as well as about 300,000 pounds in cash.

Unlike the tiresome Come Morning, Good People is slightly more deserving of being compared to A Simple Plan, but still pales in comparison. Bad people lose money, good people find it, chaos ensues. However, unlike Simple Plan, Tom and Anna are in it to win it, start to finish. There’s no significant quarrel between them about how, when, or why to keep/use the money, unlike Simple Plan, where everyone turns on everyone eventually. This leads to a less dynamic plot and not much character development.

Eventually the two slighted parties (Sam Spruell and Omar Sy) come looking for the money and drugs lost in the deal, and immediately and violently assume Tom and Anna are involved and have taken both the product and the cash. The police investigator (Tom Wilkinson) figures out that our protagonists have started spending outside their usual patterns to keep head above water on their apartment rent and the upkeep costs on an inherited house outside of town. If they were having money problems, though, there’s not a clear reason why they couldn’t just move into the house they already owned. Nobody in the film behaves terribly intelligently much of the time, leading to a series of botched exchanges that clumsily build toward the semi-climactic four-way faceoff in the third act.

The movie seeks to explore the gradient between good and evil in everyone involved, except that only really exists with the two protagonists, who end up doing some bad things for good reasons, and vice versa. The bad guys are just bad guys, through and through. One wants his drugs and the other wants his money, and is occasionally upset about the fact that someone blew his brother’s head off. The cop has an axe to grind with the local drug dealers for getting his daughter killed, but that’s really about as much as you get out of that side-story. Wilkinson is really underutilized in this role, and with only 90 minutes of film in the can, there’s really no time to develop any of the antagonist characters at all. You want to see a great movie about the toll that drugs can take on police, families, and innocent bystanders? Watch Traffic instead.

In the end, the story’s pretty basic, the characters don’t get the exposition they deserve, but at least it doesn’t dawdle about for it. You’ll be through this flick and onto the next event without giving a second thought. The high-def picture quality is good, though the stylistic choice of using a rather drab color palette doesn’t make it much to look at. The extras include English and Spanish subtitles, and a not-even-three-minute behind the scenes featurette, along with some trailers for some other movies by the publisher. That’s it. I’d say Good People is at best a rental rather than a purchase.

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Mark Buckingham

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