James Franco can be confusing. The actor—despite an Oscar pedigree and genuine talent for embodying characters (see: Spring Breakers)—seems to relish trolling or otherwise confounding the general population with his hyper-prolific output, dabblings in the art world, and various Instagram hijinks. So it’s refreshing that Good People, his latest film, is void of any grating meta-layers or reference to his public persona. It’s just a regular, by-the-book thriller.
And not a bad one, from the looks of it. Franco and Kate Hudson are a couple in dire financial straits who discover a hidden cache of cash in their dead tenant’s apartment. They pocket the money for themselves after some suspect rationalization (“But what makes money bad? The people make it bad. Not the money”), but realize their plan isn’t so smart when the thief who originally stole the loot pursues them with murderous intent. The plot is reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s terrific debut, Shallow Grave, and some of the action seems incoherent, but otherwise the film has all the makings of a decent thriller—including an excellent screenwriter in Kelly Masterson, who penned Sidney Lumet’s masterful Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.