Dead Man Down
Distributed by: FilmDistrict
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I'm usually not one of those folks who go see a film just based on the action I see in a promo. And I'm not one of those gals who are desperately in love with Colin Farrell and will go see anything he is in. But something about the previews for Dead Man Down made me want to head to the movie theater to check it out...so I did.
Directed by Neils Arden Plev, the same man who directed the original Swedish movie adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Dead Man Down stars Colin Farrell as Victor, a member of a Queens, New York-based crime syndicate run by Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard). At first glance, Victor is a ruthless killer. That's one of the reasons his neighbor, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), seeks him out.
Apparently, Beatrice's apartment is across the way from Victor's and she witnessed him murder another man. Rather than report this murder to the police, she decides that Victor is the perfect man for her purposes. Some time ago, a drunk driver crashed into her car, causing severe disfigurement to the left side of her face. Once a very beautiful woman who worked as a beautician, now, despite reconstructive surgery, all that Beatrice can see when she looks into the mirror is a monster. She wants to exact revenge on the man who caused her so much pain and whose only punishment was a couple of months in jail.
Victor is reluctant to perform the act, but eventually relents. As an intrigued Beatrice spends more time with Victor, she learns that he is just as broken and haunted by his past as she is. Victor is hiding his true identity. He is actually a Hungarian immigrant named Lazlo Kerick. Years ago, Kerick's daughter was killed in a botched attempt by Alphonse's gang to scare the final occupants out of a building Alphonse wanted to secure as part of his criminal activities. When Lazlo and his wife were approached to testify against Alphonse's men, Alphonse hired an Albanian gang to take them out. Believed dead, Lazlo actually survived and infiltrated Alphonse's crime syndicate in his new identity in an effort to exact revenge on both Alphonse and the Albanians he hired.
The more time he spends with Beatrice, the more interested he becomes in her. As Victor's plan comes closer to fruition, he finds himself falling in love with Beatrice, an act he believes is a betrayal of his former family. Victor looks for a way to drive a wedge between himself and Beatrice as he believes his final act on this world will be to destroy the people who killed his family. Unfortunately, Alphonse and his associates have other plans.
Touted as an action film about revenge, Dead Man Down is also actually a love story. Thus, though most people wouldn't bring a date to an action film, Dead Man Down makes perfect sense as a date film. Sure, there's plenty of action - car chases, shooting, explosions - but there is also a definitive love story beneath it all that will appear to the romantic at heart.
There are definitely some holes in the storyline of this film and I often found myself wondering at the fact that Victor is always worried about his true identity being revealed and is very careful to maintain that secret, yet does nothing to prevent leaving fingerprints at the scenes of any of his acts of revenge. Sure, this is a man who believes he will die along with his enemy, but taking such pains as to conceal a war room behind the refrigerator in his apartment and murdering the one member on Alphonse's team who gets close to discovering him suggests that he is not ready to be found out just yet.
That being said, it is a movie and sometimes these things are done intentionally. Perhaps there is a subconscious need that Victor has for his boss to know who is actively trying to take him down. Perhaps he knows that Alphonse would never bother using forensic evidence to try to track him down.
Despite that little nagging thing, I found Dead Man Down to be incredibly enjoyable. The action scenes were awesome - bullets flying, things blowing up, car chases, rappelling out of windows, etc. Just when you think that the powers that be can't top a certain action scene, you are wowed with yet another. The movie's finale is an action lover's dream.
Noomi Rapace and Colin Farrell are quite believable as haunted and damaged people who want revenge on the people who destroyed their lives, yet secretly harbor a hope for a normal life. Their onscreen charisma lends credence to the sexual tension and romantic feelings they eventually express to one another. Terrence Howard is awesome as always in his role as the ruthless crime lord whose iron exterior is cracked by his unknown pursuer. His arrogance is enough to make the viewer want to reach into the movie screen and exact revenge for Victor.
Without revealing the ending, I must say that the final scenes of the movie were awesome, edge of your seat moments. Though some might find the ending to be somewhat predictable, I felt that the movie had to end this way in order to be credible. Dead Man Down is a great action film that offers up a softer side for those looking for romance. A great date movie and a fun film for any action lover out there.