We’re 10+ years into the “make Colin Farrell a movie star” era. For whatever the reason, Colin has never truly caught the movie-going public’s interest. Personally, I like him. In a world full of Channing Tatum’s and Ryan Reynolds’, Colin is a pretty decent actor and has enough screen presence to be a leading man.
Dead Man Down is the Irish actor’s latest flick, and while the title sounds like a description of his film career, it turns out to be a surprisingly effective thriller.
Before I continue with my review, lets not get too down about these trailers.
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO DEAD MAN DOWN:
Iron Man 3- This new trailer for IM3 has me hyped for it’s release. New director (Shane Black) seems to be going for a darker tone. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Conjuring- This might be one of the scariest trailers I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t think it’ll be a good film, but it’s out to scare the hell out of us. : Sell My Stock!
The Host- No matter how good the trailer appears, when you see that it’s from the writer of the “Twilight Saga”, you can’t help but laugh at it. : Sell My Stock!
Olympus Has Fallen- This looks completely ridiculous, yet it has a strong enough cast to make me interested in it’s “Die Hard at the White House” plot. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Temptation- A Tyler Perry production, that has Kim Kardashian as the 3rd billed “actor”. Should we start a Razzie countdown already? : Sell My Stock!
Mud- This was a big hit at Sundance and should be one of the most talked about “indie” projects of 2013. Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon lead this interesting film. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
Dead Man Down‘s director, Niels Arden Oplev (who helmed the original/Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) has a gift for creating film noir. With this, his first American film, he’s given us a boiling soup full of revenge, deception and violence.
Victor (Farrell) is a hitman for a crime empire run by ruthless kingpin, Alphonse (Terrance Howard). But there is more to Victor’s backstory and job. He’s a Hungarian immigrant, who’s single purpose is making Alphonse pay for destroying his once happy life. Victor lost his wife and young child because of Alphonse’s wicked ways. Victor has been setting up his revenge for three years and nothing will get in his way. The payback angle is interwoven with aspects from Japanese Rōnin tales. Infiltrating your enemy’s inner circle, all the while picking off members and driving the intended victim insane.
Victor’s masterful play of vengeance suddenly comes to a screeching halt. His closest friend (Dominic Cooper), who also works for Alphonse, starts getting to0 close to figuring out who is behind all this mayhem. To make matters worse, Victor also has a major problem with his neighbor.
As he orchestrates his revenge plot from his high-rise apartment, Victor is being spied on by Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a mysterious French woman who lives with her meddling mother (Isabelle Huppert) in the apartment across from his. Just like Victor, the emotionally and physically damaged Beatrice (one side of her face is scarred after a drunk driver hit her) seethes with a rage of her own. When she discovers Victor’s murderous profession, she blackmails him to help her carry out her own campaign of retribution, by murdering the drunk driver who destroyed her face. Complicating matters further, Beatrice starts falling for Victor, but he can’t bring himself to fall in love again after losing his wife.
The acting here is as sharp as the tense plot woven by Opley and his writer J.H. Wyman. Farrell gives a very understated performance. He could have easily played Victor as an over-the-top character drunk on revenge, but instead he gives us a constant inner-monologue. Rapace (the original Lisbeth Salander) is all over the place with her turn as Beatrice. That is not an insult. Beatrice is a very complicated woman, with emotions ranging from A to Z. Rapace captures this perfectly. Howard, Cooper and Huppert make the best of their supporting roles. It was a pleasure to see veteran character actors F. Murray Abraham and Armand Assante getting some well-deserved screen time.
This is a dark, gritty slice of life that none of us would want to experience. It’s an ultra violent and twisted tale, which has a squirming scene involving rats and torture, that pretty much sums up the mood of the entire film. My only minor complaint is that the ending felt too rushed and a little too pollyannish for such a grim story.
Dead Man Down should be seen because it’s an original action/thriller, which is hard to find nowadays. It should also be seen to remind us why we still believe Colin Farrell can be a movie star.
I give DEAD MAN DOWN ***1/2 out of ****.