DEAD MAN DOWN: A Review

DEAD MAN DOWN: A Review by Salty Kernel, Andrew Brusentsev

I was keenly anticipating seeing Dead Man Down. This was Niels Arden Oplev’s first foray into Hollywood. The man who brought us “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” as well as the excellent Swedish TV staples of “The Eagle” and “Unit 1” of which he was one of the shining episode directors.

 

 

Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace
Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace

 

The premise of this movie is a double revenge story featuring separate vendettas for our mains Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. What could be a very compelling story turns out to be a very tedious chore for those who are watching. As a Hollywood launch vehicle for Oplev this surely couldn’t be it, could it?

In the first scenes we are introduced to Victor (Farrell) who plays a low level enforcer for a mobster Alphonse (Terrence Howard). This criminal enterprise for the past couple of months has been plagued by letters and threats posted to its leader. Alphonse is hell bent on finding the trouble maker and his gang are decidedly on edge. That is when things go decidedly from notes and pieces of a cut out photograph to actual violence – one of Alphonse’s trusted lieutenant’s winds up in a freezer box. I won’t spoil what little moments there are in the story-line but we quickly learn that Victor is the traitor in the organisation, he is intent on destroying the gang from within after Alphonse killed his wife and daughter.

 

Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace
Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace

 

All things point to a bloody outcome for Alphonse’s gang when Victors plan hits a large pothole. Beatrice (Rapace) the girl in the opposite building to Victor has watched him commit a murder (the freezer guy), but instead of doing her citizens duty she instead instigates a revenge plot of her own. Victor must kill the man who disfigured her in a drunk hit and run or face the consequences.

OK to be fair when the treatment was read out by production staff, talent agents and actors I would have been quite interested as well. Attach a man with credentials like Oplev and many would have signed on. I think the primary reason it doesn’t work is we take Oplev’s schooling in nuanced Swedish film techniques of washed out scenes, tense silences and atmosphere and smash it together with a connect the dots made for TV neo-noir Saturday on the couch movie. The result a horrible mess.

 

Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace
Dead Man Down starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace

 

OK some of the more atmospheric scenes are done nicely, unfortunately when you mix this in with room or confined locations and worst of all some of the most disengaging action scenes I have seen in a while it really suffers. The action scenes are bland and resolve themselves without any real sense of urgency. I could see the cinema goers shifting restlessly in their seats as they quickly realised the 2nd and 3rd acts would be standard follow the numbers.

Farrell and Rapace are quite solid, Howard is wasted and even a small bit role for the usual Dominic Cooper as one of Victors gang friends does nothing to enhance the mood, it seems they are on auto pilot.  Another big bugbear of mine; Rapace’s character has a scar from the accident but I have to say it is not that bad? She still looks gorgeous and to the viewer that is a problem as we are not drawn into her pain at all, we don’t relate to her dialogue or central character points. We obviously know that Victor and Beatrice will end up together but it is done in such a ham-fisted kind of way that I cringed when the “emotional” scene played out.

With the themes of personal revenge and personal toll it takes, the revenge has never looked so uninspired and the personal toll so non personal. Most will go to see it for the big stars which is a shame. I really rate Oplev from his previous work, it is such a shame that Oplev’s first foray into Hollywood is so utterly forgettable.

Sadly I rate this 2 out of 5 pops.

 

2 Pops