Dead Man Down Reviews
Good Film! It's a movie that never loses sight of what it originally intends, nor does it pander to taste or pretend to be better than it is. The script is solid and seamless. There are some shortcomings as to continuity and perspective of a linear timeline, but there is so much emotion in even the smallest scenes as to make this almost trivial. The movie bounces between crime thriller and romantic/love story. The added fun of secret missions from both Victor and Beatrice provide the twist this one needs. This one reminds at times of a couple of Mel Gibson revenge flicks: Payback and Edge of Darkness. Fantastic performances all around.
Victor, a rising gangland player, has infiltrated the crime empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse, with the single purpose of making Alphonse pay for destroying his once happy life. As he meticulously orchestrates his vengeance from his high-rise home, Victor watches and is watched by Beatrice, a mysterious young woman who lives in the apartment across from his. On the surface a fragile woman-child, Beatrice seethes with a rage of her own. When she uncovers Victor's dark secrets, she threatens to expose him unless he helps her carry out her own campaign of retribution. Each fixated on avenging the past, they devise a violent and cathartic plan that could change their worlds forever.
What we get here is the story of Victor- a Hungarian immigrant who makes his living as a hired killer for crime lord Alphonse Hoyt. While doing Hoyt's bidding, he is also planning a a crusade of revenge for wrongs done to him in the past. At the same time, he becomes involved with his neighbor Beatrice- a scarred woman who blackmails him into helping her with her own plan of revenge for wrongs done to her. The stories become intertwined, which really raises the stakes, tension and suspense.
I had some pretty high hopes for this one. The trailer is what got me hooked, and it is absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately the film isn't quite as good, but it's still slightly better than average.
I think the main issues here are that the film is weighed down by some hammy twists, muddled plotting and story lines, and a sluggish pace. I think it could have also been a tad shorter as well.
The action is decently well done though, and there are some good sequences. The reasons for the various acts of revenge are decent, but the way the film goes about them are pretty messy.
Colin Farrell is decent as Victor, Noomi Rapace is effective as Beatrice, and they have some okay chemistry with one another. Terrence Howard is fine as Alphonse, and then we get some appearances from Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, Armand Assante, and even F. Murray Abraham. For wrestling fans, there's also an appearance from Wade Barrett as a henchman named Killroy. It should be noted that this film is also from WWE Studios, hence why Barrett is likely here.
All in all, this is okay, but it could have been a lot better. I like that WWE Studios is trying for some less ridiculous action, and something more serious. It's not a great neo-noir thriller, but it does have it's moments. So yeah, it's a slight misstep for Oplev, but here's to hoping his next American film is even better.
I love revenge movies. "Man on Wire", "Death Wish", "Kill Bill", just something about seeing someone get their revenge is awesome. "Dead Man Down" is the latest revenge movie to come along, and while it's nowhere near as good as the other movies listed, it's still OK. Colin Farrell stars as a man working for the mob who is really plotting to kill them all for the murder of his wife and daughter. Things go off course when he meets a strange woman(Noomi Rapace) who needs him to assist her with some revenge of her own. The cast in this movie is fantastic. Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper play two of man mob guys, and they play bad, very good. While the cast is great, the material they work with is just "meh", so their performances could have been stronger. The film is very slow, and at a deliberate pace. It clocks at right around 2 hours, but feels more like 2 and a half. Plus, other than the ending, there isn't much action here, it's a lot more story based and atmospheric, which is fine if it were faster. The ending actually is a little unsatisfying. For what it's worth Emily enjoyed it ,and usually she falls asleep during any movie or won't watch these types of movies with me. It's just OK, but not something that will be remembered in the long run.
"Dead Man Down" is a finely tuned neo-neo-noir that is helped greatly by the excellent chemistry between Noomi Rapace and Colin Farrell playing characters brought together not so much by vengeance as by loneliness. Along these same lines, mood is very important here, as the movie has a dimmed color scheme, which gives New York City the feeling of always being draped in shadows. But sometimes the movie can go a little too far in that hazy direction, as I'm still not exactly sure who F. Murray Abraham is supposed to be playing here.(To be fair, I feel the same about him in "Homeland.") That's not to mention an ending that it probably doesn't deserve, following a cliched climax.
'Dead Man Down' is the story of a man hiding his true identity but the film seems to suffering from several identity crises of its own. Produced by World Wrestling Entertainment, it's a far more serious film than this association would lead you to expect, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't feature any wrestlers, certainly not in the lead roles. There are only two sequences which could be described as "action scenes" but even that's pushing it. Most of the film feels like the filler you usually find in between such set-pieces. Think of a Jason Statham movie with all the action moments edited out and you'll have a good idea of the overall tone of this film.
Director Oplev was responsible for the original Swedish version of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', an unremarkably directed TV movie, so it's strange that he would be offered a big American film like this. The WWE seem determined to avoid stereotyping so much that they even cast that poster girl of European arthouse cinema, Isabelle Huppert, in a minor role as the mother of Rapace's character. Any continental feel they were striving for, however, is undone by the subplot of Rapace's facial scar. It's practically unnoticeable, as no commercial American film is going to cast an attractive actress only to cover her face in scar tissue.
Dead man down? Dead duck floating more like.
If I was fearing nothing else when I walked into this film, it was genericism, so I'm glad to see that the final product is not simply far from trite, but has areas that are genuinely refreshing, yet not without lugging around more than a few tropes that thin out the standout value of this film and leave predictability to set in. Familiarity plagues the film's plot, and even touches the characters, yet you somehow still feel rather disassociated from many of the major beats to storytelling that you've seen time and again, because even though you eventually gain a decent understanding of plot and character motivations, expository depth is sparse, which is problematic, not just because the sparseness of the exposition leaves you to take too long to attach yourself to this drama, but because exposition stands a chance of bonding plotting areas more organically. As things stand, the film is not only underdeveloped, but uneven, juggling subplots messily, underusing characters who will sometimes return to a high position in focus' priority all of a sudden, and even contradicting a harshly realist tone with the occasional questionable plotting note, particularly when it comes to some of the twists. When storytelling hits, as it often does, it hits harder than they say, sometimes to the point of genuinely engrossing with glimpses into the more rewarding thriller than this film easily could have been, but isn't, as it is too formulaic, underdeveloped and inconsistent for its own good, as well as with a tendency to directly assault the thrills with an inconsistency in pacing. Kind of European in its storytelling sensibilities as a meditative thriller, this film breaks up heavy tension with long and thoughtful periods of atmospheric sobriety that gives the film a sense of intelligence, and often meditates on the right thing at the right time, resulting in effectiveness, but more often than not simply slows the film down much too much, sometimes, perhaps even often into all-out dullness that distances you, or at least draws you in enough to think more about the final product's other shortcomings. The film has more potential than plenty of people say, and is even better than plenty of people say, having enough strengths to border on rewarding, though not enough for the final product to make that leap, pulled down from potential by the overpowering weight of predictability, underdevelopment, unevenness, slowness and overall underwhelmingness. Nevertheless, the point is that the film comes closer to good than many people say, ultimately falling short of what it could have been, but still being an adequately compelling thriller, and a stylish one at that.
I've heard some compliments directed towards highlights in Paul Cameron's cinematography, and quite frankly, I reluctantly compliment Cameron's efforts, as they are generally kind of flat and not all that outstanding on the whole, which isn't to say that there aren't still moments in which I did see what the moderate degree of hype is about, as there are mighty handsome occasions within this film's photographic value, which is at least consistent in a certain harsh coloring and lighting that fits the grit of this neo-noir like a glove. Again, I'm stretching with my compliments toward this film's generally underwhelming visual style, but the look of the final product is fitting, and it does its job reasonably well when it comes to complimenting the atmospheric intensity of this thriller, that is until the action sequences come into play, being sometimes too frantic in their filming and editing for you to get all that much of an understanding of what is going on, but generally intense, with tightly intricate staging whose realist feel immerses you into the messy and brutal combat, whose unapologetic violence further adds to the thrills. There's not a whole lot of action in this generally meditative noir thriller, but when it arrives, I found difficulty in turning away, and I wish I could say that most every other aspect to this film proved to be about as engaging, as this film could have been quite compelling. The story concept is familiar, and its value is often betrayed by undercooking, inconsistencies and slowness in storytelling, but the value is still there, somewhere inside this, in some areas, reasonably intelligent and dramatically weighty thriller, and when it is really played upon, I can't lie, I found myself all but gripped, because whether when he's playing up the chilliness of Jacob Groth's often ominously minimalist score, or being reasonably controlled in his thoughtfully soaking up the more dramatic aspects, director Niels Arden Oplev has his moments as storyteller that I found hard to ignore. Sure, the mistakes that Oplev makes as storyteller are just as difficult to ignore, and are arguably more recurring, but ambition that emphasizes hiccups becomes inspiration which emphasizes compellingness often enough for the final product to border on rewarding. Of course, what might bring the final product closest to the edge of rewarding is something that is consistently strong, and more so than I expected: the performances, which would be greater if there weren't some underwritten areas in acting material, but is still quite impressive, particularly within our leads, with Noomi Rapace practically stealing the show with her subtly powerful portrayal of a scarred and misfortunate woman who grows from a victim wanting to be avenged, if not simply put out of her misery, into someone who sees a very real chance at a new and relieved life, while leading man Collin Farrell delivers on both a flawless Hungarian-American accent, as well as on a convincing and quietly engaging, if not rather piercing portrayal of a killer willing to do the dirtiest of deeds to exact vengeance, yet for only so long before humanity challenges his fury. This is a talented cast, and I was expecting this film to have nothing less than enjoyable performances, but when acting material picks up, the performers deliver strongly as particularly reflective of the weight of this dramatic thriller, and while they aren't enough to make the final product rewarding, they, alongside inspired areas in direction, provide enough glimpses into what could have been to make a surprisingly very decent, if still somewhat underwhelming thriller.
Bottom line, the film boasts its formulaic areas, and just as many undercooked areas, while being a bit inconsistent in its plot layering, character usage, believability and pacing, - which mostly leans a bit too far over into the slow side - thus making for a thriller that doesn't offer enough thrills to reward, but comes closer than they say on the backs of intense action, often effective direction and strong acting, - especially from a show-stealingly excellent Noomi Rapace and engaging Collin Farrell - which deliver on enough glimpses into potential for "Dead Man Down" to stand as an endearing neo-noir, even though it could have been more.
2.75/5 - Decent
The story of DMD seems quite common and run-of-the-mill but it is presented in such a way that it seems different from the rest. The story follows a middle ranking gangster who plots his revenge against his boss who killed his daughter and wife. By just reading that, it could put you off the movie because it sounds very familiar, but just by learning it is directed by the guy who directed the original Swedish film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo may just change your mind.
Dead Man Down is a different kind of revenge thriller because as you can tell from the outset, it is slow burning and puts the adrenaline fuelled action on hold. In most revenge films the action comes frequently and heavily. Films like The Punisher are constantly hitting the gas on action scenes, whereas DMD is more reserved and slower; easing into the action rather than pushing it at every opportunity. Sure it gets carried away with a dubstep slow motion action scene where bullets fly and bodies drop.
Niels Arden Oplev joins the ranks of Chan-wook Park in being a very successful foreign director who makes an English language debut. And while I didnā??t manage to check out Stoker, I can confirm that Niels can make a great film outside of his comfort zone. And while TGWTDT is obviously a better film, DMD is a great film and you can tell it was a unique director at the helm due to how different it felt.
I was impressed with the stars of the film. Terrance Howard was the highlight for me but Noomi Rapace & Colin Farrell were great. Everyone hit the tone very well with few exceptions (Dominic Cooper). The action is great, with a few impressive set pieces (assassination building escape & final standoff) that look very stylised.
Overall, Dead Man Down is a very entertaining revenge thriller that is definitely worth seeing if you want to see fresh material to a tired sub-genre. Great acting, story, twists, story developments, action & set pieces.
The story, cliched in many respects, is not without it's interesting elements. This is perhaps where the foreign director's touch is felt the most, with a very European sensibility with its scene set up, seemingly completely uninterested in pace, and far more interested in building slow momentum and character intrigue through the use of long scenes. This, unfortunately, doesn't work well on the whole, and makes the film feel sluggish.
The screenplay has often terrible dialogue and sloppy plot twists. It does have some more competent elements, but is notably unpolished and is the worst thing about the film. Having said that, however, the actors manage to lift the material up through their delivery, and save what would otherwise be a hopelessly inept story.
It has a certain cinematography that is reminiscent of Michael Mann in a polished, saturated, yet realist way. This gives the film an atmospheric tone that is felt throughout, and weights the film to a grittier level than it would otherwise be. That is to say, the film undoubtedly looks and feels better than the actual material and execution would suggest.
Overall, it's certainly a mixed bag, but it works well enough to make it a serviceable B thriller.