DEAD MAN DOWN (2013)


dead ma Greetings again from the darkness. On the surface, this looks like just another early season crime thriller. From that perspective, it works well enough. However, there are some elements that add complexity and interest, and set this one above the usual. It’s directed by Niels Arden Oplev who was responsible for the original (and very cool) Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). This looks to be his first English language feature and he re-teams with the exciting and talented Noomi Rapace.

The film begins with a body in the freezer, and crime boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard) and his crew attempting to solve the mystery of who killed his friend and associate. Someone has been tormenting Alphonse with little clues and he falls right into the trap of jumping to conclusions. One member of his crew is Victor (Colin Farrell). We slowly learn more about Victor thanks to an awkward and slow connection between he and his neighbor Beatrice (Ms. Rapace). Their initial acknowledgment of each other is an exchange of waves between balconies. It’s an effective visual.

dead man2 The movie bounces between crime thriller and romantic/love story, and offers a couple of big ol’ shoot-em-ups. The added fun of secret missions from both Victor and Beatrice provide the twist this one needs. Actually there are 4-5 exceptional scenes in the movie which make up for the often plodding pace … not typically a good thing for a thriller. The pieces are greater than the whole, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting watch.  Noomi Rapace has quickly made the transition to English language films and she has the ability to play gritty or glamourous – something not all actresses can pull off. Colin Farrell is one of those actors who seems to consistently choose scripts that don’t showcase his skills. He was excellent in In Bruges, but often takes roles that require little more than flexing his world class eyebrows. The quiet scenes with Rapace and Farrell give this movie a higher quality feel than it otherwise would have had.

dead man3 In addition to Farrell, Rapace and Howard, we get some really enjoyable support work from Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert and F Murray Abraham. Ms. Huppert in particular adds a touch of class and humor, and her character could have easily been expanded … same for Mr. Abraham. Cooper plays an idealistic, but not so observant buddy to Victor and loyal crew member of Howard.

This one reminds at times of a couple of Mel Gibson revenge flicks: Payback and Edge of Darkness, though what really helps here is the strength of the cast and unusual scars of Victor and Beatrice. A slightly tighter script and improved pacing would have jumped this one a level or two, but it’s entertaining in spite of the flaws.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: seeing Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace flash their acting talent intrigues you

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are looking for a taut thriller with many surprises and twists

watch the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yq3rls47cNE

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4 Responses to DEAD MAN DOWN (2013)

  1. lrstreet says:

    This is a little disappointing, I was impressed by the first trailer released for this but it sounds like the actual movie doesn’t play out quite as good as it could have been. I’ll probably just wait and catch it at home.

    I love your reviews, btw. I’ve been reading for a little while but I’m terrible at commenting.

    • Totally agree with you about the trailer … it looked really good. I enjoyed the movie (especially the Farrell/Rapace scenes) but was frustrated because it could have been so much better. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I was waiting for a good Colin Farrell movie for a while (loved In Bruges btw); this one will do for now. The scenes with him and Noomi Rapace are charged with intensity these two can deliver and it was a true pleasure to watch them. I liked how the story played out and one has to recognize the talent of Niels Arden Oplev at this point. He makes us work for the pleasure and that I think is smart on the part of a director. I’m recommending this movie to friends despite it’s weaknesses because I know they like to work out stories like this one.

    • Ray, In Bruges is one of those that I just can’t pass up if it pops up while channel surfing. Such crisp and humorous dialogue! I wouldn’t put Dead Man Down near that class, but it’s certainly enjoyable and provides interesting enough characters and visuals.

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