Overview: A struggling couple in London discovers a bag full of dirty money in their dead tenant’s apartment and attempt to use it to pay off their debt. Based on the 2008 novel by Marcus Sakey. Millenium Entertainment, 2014, Rated R, 90 minutes.
Mediocre People: Let’s get one thing straight. Tom and Anna Reed (James Franco and Kate Hudson) are never adequately established as “good” people. Before they’re faced with the moral dilemma of keeping or turning in the hundreds of thousands of dollars they find after the man living in their basement dies, the only thing we learn about them is that they’re broke, from America, and trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. We never see them make any decisions prior to this one that provides the foundation for this description. Not only have they not proven themselves as particularly good people, they proceed to make reckless, idiotic decisions with said stolen money after they’ve agreed to keep their new wealth secret. Not that any fairly decent human being deserves the shit storm that rains down once the money is traced back to the Reeds, but they don’t strike a particularly sympathetic cord. The misfortunes fall flat when paired with a stale plot.
The Redeeming Mrs. Reed: The one and only redeeming quality of this film is Kate Hudson, as the surprisingly fiery Anna Reed. During the two major confrontations the couple has with the various bad guys who are out to get their hands on them and their stolen money, Hudson manages to hold her own while James Franco hides in a corner licking his wounds after being beaten to a bloody pulp. The two lack anything resembling chemistry on screen (sushi night, really?), so it’s a relief to see her take charge after he’s rendered useless, salvaging just a little from the showdown, which feels like a cheap action rip off of the Wet Bandits versus Kevin in Home Alone. Toss in an aging cop with his own revenge agenda and a few more bad guys, and you have elements from almost every overused plot line of the last twenty years of crime thrillers.
Final Thoughts: Although Kate Hudson’s commanding screen shakes things up, it’s not enough to make up for the lack of characterization and originality that surrounds Good People.