Dead Man Down seemed to have a lot going for it. Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, F.Murray Abraham, and Dominic Cooper headed the list of actors. Plus it was set in the present time in New York. The director was Niels Arden Oplev whose last film was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So I was hoping for some snap, crackle, and pop. But the posters and the trailers made the film look a lot better than it actually played out.
The film opened last March 8th in the USA and Canada, then shortly afterwards, it opened it many countries across the globe. Its world gross was nothing special – around 18 million, so I am sure that the producers are counting on the DVD sales to increase the revenue.
The theme of the film was revenge, and it later came out that Director Oplev disowned the USA Marketing campaign. He would also claim that the shooting was rushed, budgetary problems arose during production, and that he was hampered in not being able to edit the film the way he wanted.
I can’t speak to the veracity of those reports, but I can say that even though the film gave me what I expected, it was still less than fully satisfying.
With Farrell as the lead, we knew that we’d get tough, brooding, and laconic in spades. In fact, Farrell’s Victor even tells Noomi’s Beatrice that he doesn’t talk much. This was pretty much the case throughout as the script by J.H. Wyman called for Farrell’s character to say as little as possible.
On the other hand, Alphonso, the mob boss that Victor had ‘plans’ for, was pretty much of a motor-mouth. Only he lacked that very important look of aggression. There was a big mob boss played by Armand Assante – but he only had one scene and he mumbled his way through it. So on balance, Terrence Howard’s Alphonso and Assante’s Lon Gordon represented 180 degrees of separation. One spoke clearly but wasn’t all that frightening. The other was all the more frightening because we couldn’t understand him.
There were two women in the film. Noomi Rapace had the lead female role, and her mother was played by Isabelle Huppert. Noomi’s Beatrice, a victim of an automobile accident which disfigured her face, also was revenge minded, so she and Farrell’s Victor made a natural pair. Huppert’s role was that she was nearly deaf, and a natural-born French speaker. Okay, but strictly speaking, every time Huppert was on-screen, the film slowed to a crawl. Not her fault of course. We will blame the script for that.
Another problem was that within Beatrice’s neighborhood, she was called The Monster. Yes she had facial scars, but they weren’t that pronounced or worthy of her not only being called The Monster, but in one scene, she’s actually a victim of rocks being thrown at her by the neighborhood kids. Not very realistic – but within the confines of the script it was a method to get Victor to feel more sympathetic towards her.
There were three major action sequences, all of which were done quite well. However these served only to point out the deficiencies of the movie when things weren’t moving rapidly.
I think the biggest problem was that although Victor’s family were victims, Victor was so inwardly focused and driven that it was really difficult to feel any empathy for him. He wanted his revenge and nothing was going to stop him. Only as viewers, we did not experience any sort of catharsis. It was all too matter of fact.
Three point two five is my rating. Great action sequences, Farrell looked suitably intense throughout, and not much else. Not even one detective came knocking on his door. It’s worth a rental, but just barely.