Dead Man a Mixed Bag
Revenge is a motive for many anti-heroes in pop culture, with movies being no exception. No matter the reason for the character’s want or need for vengeance, it can either be intriguing and exciting or just boring to the audience, since it has been done to death. Dead Man Down, a film directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has revenge as the driving force behind it. It has an intriguing story, but regrettably it has many problems that keep it from being great like his last film.
The story of Dead Man Down has Colin Farrell playing Victor, a member of a crime syndicate headed by Alphonse Hoyt, played by Terrence Howard. Victor is one of Hoyt’s trusted men and is close with another gang member, Darcy (Dominic Cooper). Victor is not just a common criminal; he has an ulterior motive. He wants to take down the syndicate and make them pay for what they did to him months ago. He also meets an injured young woman named Beatrice, played by the original Lisbeth Salander herself, Noomi Rapace, who asks him to carry out her own revenge. The two become attached in a strange way and try to find ways to get their respective revenges.
The biggest problem is the weird and forced dialogue, which results in contrary performances. Terrence Howard is the biggest victim in this regard, as many of his lines, while supposed to be taken seriously, seem to have a deadpan comedic value to them. Many of the scenes with Rapace and Farrell just seem out of place. The two have an awkward chemistry that does not work throughout and many of the scenes they share are not enjoyable as a whole. The film also has these odd moments of comic relief that sort of come out of nowhere; if they were taken out, the film really would not be any different.
There is a lot to like about Dead Man Down though, as the film is not all bad. The overall story, while slow to get going, becomes very captivating within the second half of the movie. The way Colin Farrell’s Victor is able to become so involved with getting revenge is just amazing. What he does is morally wrong, but he justifies it in a way that works for the movie. When he reveals why he is taking down this crime syndicate, it will definitely keep the audience’s interest for the rest of the film. Farrell comes off being similar to the comic book character, The Punisher, which is always a plus for a revenge plot.
The action scenes work as well. They are fast-paced and have some pretty cool looking set pieces that should get any action fans’ blood pumping. The climactic gunfight at the end of the movie is a definite highlight. The gunfights are not shot chaotically and lack a lot of shaky cam, which keeps the action focused and enjoyable.
Dead Man Down is the definition of a mixed bag. With a great revenge story and some well-shot and well done action scenes, the film is a movie worth seeing. The audience should not expect incredible dialogue or consistent performances though, as the script is all over the place. For those who want a solid noir-esque film, Dead Man Down works in many different ways.