Review: Dead Man Down
The lives of two neighbours cross paths as they find a mutually beneficial relationship in their respective quests for revenge. Victor, a murderous member of a violent crime group, and Beatrice, a shy beautician, slowly start to confront new feelings and doubt, and risk losing once again what was taken from them before.
Who’s in It?:
Colin Farrell is Victor, soft-spoken and lowering his standards as it so often seems he does, while the same goes for Noomi Rapace, Beatrice. Terrance Howard as a crime boss comes off far more nervous and uncertain than the brooding and sinister boss he should be.
Another in a string of neo-noir films, where substance is ignored in favor of the appearance of substance, Dead Man Down is as mediocre and vague as its title. Forlorn high-rise neighbours across the gap, Victor and Beatrice smile and wave to each other from their balconies until one finally gets up the courage to meet the other.
The encounter comes not long after Victor is involved in a gun fight where his crime boss reacts with force to some haunting threats his group has received. The dinner between Beatrice and Victor-maybe it’s a date-is odd, awkward, and almost endearing. Both are shy: Victor because he is cautious and unsure what she knows about his activities, and Beatrice because the side of her face remains scarred from a car accident. This moment, and every subsequent time the two share the screen are the most, and only, captivating portions of a film that dresses mindless revenge up as art.
It’s not the act of or even motive for vengeance that is inane, but the process, and the way in which both desires are compared. Beatrice wants payback against a drunk driver, but her story is secondary, and almost criticized, in compared to Victor’s quest for retribution. Often it’s overly elaborate, but there exists a strange moment or two, where Victor, so careful and dedicated, acts simply out of a need to set up a dramatic (and frenzied) finale for the film. It’s so out of character that you can almost see Farrell roll his eyes throughout the entire scene.
When not investigating dank basements or dark warehouses, either character can be seen under swelling gray clouds; an eerie glum pervades this North American theatrical debut for director Niels Arden Oplev, the man who helmed the original, Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Rapace was the most fascinating Lisbeth Salander, but her character here is far less interesting and able, a woman who needs a man who do her work, give her purpose, and save the day – only after she screws it up of course.
Should You See It?
If you’re a fan of either of the two leads, it’s worthwhile. Then again, as so often is the case, the trailer gives away a considerable amount of what happens and even, wait for it, misleads the audience!
“Wasn’t meant to be this way,” starts the film, a line spoken by a gang member who happens to have a child and wife. It’s not always wise to begin a movie with a line that could be applied to the film as a whole.