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'Good People' a preposterous crime thriller

'Good People' a preposterous crime thriller
James Franco and Kate Hudson star in "Good People."

The crime thriller "Good People" goes from being simply pedestrian to outright preposterous without batting an eye.

This speedy, slapdash affair, directed by Henrik Ruben Genz from a script by Kelly Masterson (based on the novel by Marcus Sakey), attempts a kind of neo-noir vibe as it pits the not-so-innocent against truly darker forces. But it's undercut by convoluted plotting and a pair of underwritten, unconvincing lead roles.

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James Franco (him again?) and Kate Hudson play Tom and Anna Wright, a struggling American couple — money issues, baby-making woes — living in London after inheriting Tom's late grandmother's shabby suburban home. Tom, an underemployed landscape designer with construction skills, renovates grandma's house while he and schoolteacher Anna live in a crummy flat with a downstairs rental. And it's in those lower quarters that they find their tenant dead of a heroin overdose — and a hidden stash of 220,000 British pounds (about $360,000). How convenient.

After some nominal hesitation, Tom and Anna — the tale's so-called good people — decide to purloin the cash to ease their near-bankrupt state. It's the first of many dumb moves they'll make.

Soon, the Wrights find themselves — and that ill-gotten loot — at the center of a turf war between pompous Parisian drug lord Khan (Omar Sy) and brutal London gangster Jack (Sam Spruell). Meanwhile, a local cop (Tom Wilkinson) with a deep-seated vendetta against Jack improbably aligns with Tom and Anna to ensnare the bad guys.

But it's Tom and Anna's swift U-turn from overwhelmed everyfolk to fisticuffing, booby-trapping bravehearts — capped by Franco and Hudson's pro-forma acting — that takes the absurdity cake here. A ridiculously violent third act merely doubles down on the film's whatever-it-takes brand of storytelling.

"Good People."

MPAA rating: R for bloody violence, language.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing at Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.

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