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Review: ‘Good People’ a preposterous crime thriller

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.

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.

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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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