Dead Man Down Defies a Few Action Movie Stereotypes
- Friday, March 08, 2013
DVD Release Date: July 9, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 8, 2013
Rating: R (violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality)
Run Time: 110 min.
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert
Perhaps hoping to eschew the most common complains about today’s action movies, namely that they’re too dumb, loud and predictable to qualify as anything but a guilty pleasure, Dead Man Down follows a different trajectory altogether with a decidedly Indie movie feel, thanks to director Niels Arden, who worked on the original Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
While you’d never guess from the film’s generic title, Dead Man Down is anything but the classic revenge tale—well, until the final act, anyway. Starring Colin Farrell (Seven Psychopaths) and Noomi Rapace, who starred in the aforementioned Tattoo, Dead Man Down is disturbing, very European, and a little odd, right from the get-go. It's plot twists border on ridiculous.
And yet, even despite several random mentions of Tupperware (hello?) and the inclusion of some extremely mean-spirited children, it’s still impossible not to wonder where this story is headed because there’s such an utter unpredictability about it all.
And thanks to some fairly well-executed character development for the leading man and lady, a rarity in this genre, the audience practically can’t help wanting to see the wrongs righted, and the bad guys suffer for their sins in fantastical fashion, something these filmmakers take an almost gleeful delight in.
As the strong, silent type with a laser-like precision whenever killing someone is involved, Farrell plays Victor, a thug for hire. While working for New York crime lord Alphonse Hoyt (a standout Terrence Howard, Iron Man), the rest of Alphonse’s crew is being hunted down by a rather enigmatic predator. Turns out, the killer’s calling card is sending pieces of photographs through the mail to taunt them since they were the ones behind the loss of his family.
Not surprisingly, the mystery man is Victor himself, which is established early on. Essentially beating them by joining their efforts, he eventually meets his match, albeit a reckless one in Beatrice (Rapace), who happens to be his neighbor with her own agenda. Since she caught Victor in the act of strangling a man, she’s using that information to blackmail him. See, she wants Victor to do the same to the man responsible for the car accident that left her disfigured both physically and emotionally.
Helping to lighten the movie’s heavy load is a bit of comic relief from the always-superb French actress Isabelle Huppert (Amour) as Beatrice’s Tupperware-loving, hearing-impaired mother. As much as her inclusion adds levity, however, make no mistake: Dead Man Down is all about revenge and its ultimate consequences.
Whether it’s extended torture sequences with the usual weaponry or a particularly squirm-worthy scene where a dozen rats are unleashed to snack on a man in custody, Dead Man Down seems dead-set on setting itself apart with shock value.
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