The new film Good People is a good movie, but not as good as the novel by Marcus Sakey from which its story originates. Sakey's novel placed the reader smack in the middle of a moral quagmire as a nice young married couple struggled with what to do with a bag of money they discover. The film, starring Kate Hudson and James Franco, does not make this dilemma quite as much of a struggle. And by making them not as "good" as the couple in the book, the impact of their problems does not resonate as much with the film audience.
Tom (Franco) and Anna (Hudson) are living and working in London. Why the story's setting was changed from Chicago to London is a mystery. Anyway the couple is barely making it financially. Plus they are frustrated by their inability to conceive a child. They do own the home in which they live and rent out the bottom floor to get extra cash.
When they discover their renter has died of a drug overdose they are shocked. However on checking out the apartment they discover a bag full of money hidden in the ceiling. Instead of telling the police detective who is investigating the death, they keep quiet about it. Both see the "found" money as being the solution to their problems. But easy come, easy go is the rule here as the couple is soon being threatened by a couple of maniacs who knew the renter had the money. There is also an evil lurker who says the money is his.
This basic plot makes the suspense element of the film work. And to director Henrik Ruben Genz's credit the pace of the film is lightning fast. The couple barely discover the money before the bad guys are circling them.
The failures of the film are in the nuances of the story. Tom and Anna are not the upstanding couple they should be. Their abilities to stand up to those threatening them are not as believable as we need them to be. And the ending of the film is just too much fantasy. Still the action makes it all fun if not believable.
The acting is also better than average. Kate Hudson continues to make progress as an actor learning her craft. Her Anna is sexy, smart and full of surprises. She creates a character with whom the audience can relate in much better fashion than Franco does. His Tom is a cipher who never shows his true colors.
In supporting roles, Tom Wilkinson is rock solid as the police detective who is hot on the trail of the couple and their pursuers. Both Anna Friel and Omar Sy are wasted in their too small roles as Anna's best friend and the mystery man who says it is his money. It is difficult to understand why Sy would take this very small role since he is coming off a major success like "The Intouchables".
The film is rated R for profanity, violence and brief nudity.
Good People had a good book to draw its story from, but too little adherence to the strong points of that source make the movie less than it should be and could have been. You will enjoy it as a suspense thriller but you won't feel the impact readers of the book got.
I scored Good People a morally challenged 5 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper