Movie Review - Dead Man Down

WWE Studios produced this movie. It stars Colin Farrell who isn't a wrestler but over the past decade, he's really done a lot to build and bulk up his body with muscle. Ever since his debut in Tigerland (2000), the Irish actor has always been physically fit, and he's always been capable in movies with crazy or intense, action scenes like Minority Report (2002), all the way to Farrell's appearance in Total Recall (2012). It makes Farrell's character here of Victor a more believable thug to a powerful, New York City, drug dealer.

Niels Arden Oplev directed the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). The female star of that movie, Noomi Rapace, co-stars here as Beatrice, a beautician who survives a car accident but her immediate family does not. Yet, the drunk driver for some reason walked free and is roaming the streets of New York with no consequence. Beatrice lives in the apartment across from Victor and over the course of the movie she falls in love with him.

Oplev's tone is a step above his 2009 film and the themes aren't as brutal, but, arguably, Dead Man Down has more violence, more gun violence, which proves how much this foreign director and foreign leading actors get America. The United States' culture is nothing if not full of gun violence. Oplev has three gun-violent scenes and they work, less for their staging, which is effective, and more for their twists or surprise and unlikely endings.

The screenplay by J. H. Wyman has some nice twists and surprises in the plot that kept drawing me into it. Otherwise, it's simply a revenge story. What might set it apart is that it's actually two revenge stories happening at once. The one problem is the chronology of the events or the time-lapse between certain events and the suspension of disbelief that must be taken for particular things. I can't comment on those things without a spoiler alert, so I'll give one.

Spoiler alert! Colin Farrell plays Victor, the right-hand thug to Alphonse, a drug kingpin, played by Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard. However, Victor isn't his real name. Victor is actually a Hungarian immigrant whose family was murdered by Alphonse. Victor changed his name and started working for Alphonse in order to infiltrate Alphonse's organization and ultimately kill Alphonse. The question is why doesn't Alphonse recognize Victor.

Luis Da Silva Jr (left), Wade Barrett (center)
and Terrence Howard in "Dead Man Down"
The answer is that Alphonse never met Victor. Alphonse heard that Victor and his family were in the way of a building he wanted to take, so he gave the order sight-unseen to a bunch of Albanian assassins to kill Victor and his family. Yet, Victor survived and vowed revenge.

My problem of chronology and suspension of disbelief goes to how Victor was able to start working for Alphonse in the first place. It's not a position that you can submit a résumé in order to get. It's also doubtful Alphonse would accept him into his organization just out of nowhere. Wyman's script indicates that someone in Alphonse's organization was investigating Victor, but only after Victor had been working for Alphonse for a while.

Nevertheless, the movie has some very clever moments. The action scenes are surprising. The performances are well done. The movie could have done more for Dominic Cooper who plays Darcy, a fellow thug in Alphonse's organization. It's sad that Victor doesn't make the active choice not to take revenge. We get that he's not so dead inside or cold-hearted, but the choice to seek ultimate revenge is taken from him.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violence, language and sexuality.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 57 mins.


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