Film Review: Dead Man Down
DEAD MAN DOWN
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
Screenplay: J. H. Wyman
Director of Photography: Paul Cameron
Editing: Timothy A. Good and Frédéric Thoraval Produced by: Neal H. Moritz and Mr. Wyman
Distributed by: FilmDistrict.
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes.
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Cast: Colin Farrell,mNoomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, Armand Assante and F. Murray Abraham
Up to it’s near conclusion Dead Man Down, the newest outing from Swedish Director Niels Aden Oplev could have been matched up on a double-feature of such previous crime-action films as Donnie Brasco, 21 Grams or even Die Hard but then the third act happens, and what could have been a nice cake, turns out to be uncooked batter.
With a script provided by J.H. Wyman, Dead Man Down presents Victor and Beatrice sharing similar views of New York City from their perspective apartments but their past couldn’t be anymore different. As a troubled woman, Beatrice has been dealt with a deep and lasting facial scar from a previous accident involving a drunk driver. In order to seek revenge on her assailant she attempts to blackmail Victor, after witnessing his well-executed murdering of a stranger from the safety of her kitchen – ala Rear Window. Armed with little knowledge about his life, Beatrice quickly discovers Victor’s profession as a killing specialist, and her neighbor’s slow-burn revenge plot to take down the Alphonse’s (Terrence Howard) ran drug organization as payback for the death of Victor’s family.
In his previous films, Director Oplev has had a tendency to play up his strengths – suspense, dotted with high-art. Viewers have been able to count on these things to solidly present themselves in this Director’s work, and Its these times when Dead Man Down plays well and connects its audience to the action taking place on screen. Overall the picture has some nice action points combined with Cinematography from Paul Cameron (Collateral) to allow the film a seedy, suspenseful and refreshing tone, but it’s also a good thing that Oplev’s previous work put him on the radar with the original 2009 Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as most will now find that with Dead Man Down, this feature isn’t going to move any markers this time around.
With the first two-thirds of the film being so much more on point, the issues show through predominantly when the third act comes into play – the film goes from a sub-genre exercise to something of a blatant late-80’s, early-90’s action-hero picture without the slightest shake to what the same film was for the previous 90 min. What once was an indie/art-house faired film with a morality-driven character backstory suddenly takes a sideswipe to an over-the-top, brutally-forced and ultra-violent revenge fantasy – and as the going gets tough, the picture stops going.
Oplev does pull some additional strength from hiring the right principle actors to take over the film. As a nearly always dependable talent Collin Farrel once again shows that he able to take on a multi-layered role with ease while also carrying the poise to make everything stick together. Farrel’s Victor is as straight-laced and intense as hit men come but unlike similarly-toned actions films, the Actor does a nice job of proving this character has deep emotional ties and a little bit of crazy to give his motivation some true grit and kick. Noomi Rapace made her presence known as the original GWtDT, gives a standout performance here as Beatrice, an on-the-mend disfigured beautician. Terrence Howard’s worthwhile performance as the menacing and sly drug boss isn’t one of his subtlest performances but shows the actor’s grimy-side while also never detracting from the film.
In the end, Director Niels Aden Oplev’s first American-based gritty feature, Dead Man Down gets by on ambience and it’s cast of characters. But the film falls short with its cliched and concentrated finale by managing to tear down most of what made the picture so good to begin with. Its hard to ultimately end up saying if this film is good or not worth seeing, but if viewers aren’t wary to sit through a slightly convoluted action-crime-romance story with some enjoyable performances then Dead Man Down may be just what you want for the cold and rainy days we’ve had outside lately, you just may want to leave without seeing the ending.
Fresh Roasted Rating: C
Matt Miles, Contributing Writer
Producer of Fresh Roasted Films
Other notable performances:
* French actress Isabelle Hubbert as Beatrice’s over-bearing and lovable mother. More than a few scenes are stollen by the actress and once she’s gone, you really long for her to come back.
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