What is Dead Man Down? Normally, at some point in the movie the title makes sense, either literally or metaphorically. After watching Dead Man Down only part of it makes sense. I’m still confused on the “Down” part. I guess it was used to describe everyone’s mood. It literally is one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in a long time. There was a lot of laughter in the theatre, which I really didn’t understand. Only one character in the movie had what you would call a “sunny disposition” and she was just an older deaf woman who was blind to what was going on around her.
Dead Man Down comes from the director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Niels Arden Oplev, and is his first English language movie. Dead Man Down is not overly original in any way, and in fact borrows a few elements from Dragon Tattoo. I kind of expect foreign directors to bring a little flair and ingenuity to their movies, unfortunately this ends up being a little drab and boring.
The movie starts off by dropping us into the middle of what felt like a larger story. This is a story of revenge and everyone has a score to settle. The narrative spends too much time dwelling on awkward phone calls and dates between Victor (Colin Farrell) and Beatrice (Noomi Rapace). I can best describe it as the filmmakers decided to film the first draft of the screenplay. All of the ideas and themes are there, they just aren’t properly hashed out. The relationships between the characters are thin at best. For example, Colin Farrell’s character is supposed to be friends with another crony, played by Dominic Cooper, but we only know this from one of the weakest story telling methods, one the characters says so. Show me some tender moments where the two men laugh and actually get along, I can figure out that they’re friends. This was actually meant to be a major story arc, but it’s just passed over with little fanfare. I had the privilege to see this movie with our Director of Comics and he stated that it resembled a Punisher story. I agree except that it was less violent and lacking any heart. It all “builds” to a confrontation resulting in a gun battle that was actually mildly exciting.
Colin Farrell’s character is one of those that “doesn’t talk much,” he doesn’t act much in the movie either. He mostly stares at Noomi Rapace and makes awkward noises while vacuuming his apartment. Rapace herself shows once again shows that she can handle her own and brings a sweet tenderness to her character’s troubled and broken self. She really stood out in last year’s Prometheus and I’m looking forward to seeing her in more character rich stuff.
Dead Man Down doesn’t stand out by any means, but there are a few good performances in it and above average directing. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there, they just don’t properly fit with one another and that is what keeps Dead Man Down, down.
4.5 out of 11
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About the movie:
Synopsis: In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss’s victims, a woman seeking retribution.
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Stars: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper
Run time: 110 min