Synopsis: In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is seduced by a woman seeking retribution.
Stars: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Running Length: 110 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: Have you ever been sitting in a movie theater and find yourself rooting for a bad movie to be good? Maybe it’s the inherent “Minnesota Nice” in me or the understanding of all the work that goes into crafting a picture for mass consumption but I try to always hope for the best in even the worst situations. Dead Man Down isn’t a total failure of epic proportions but its lack of any momentum or true surprise stings more than it should.
First off, you have a solid cast assembled. Rapace made a name for herself in the US as the original Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo long before it was remade as a slick thriller by David Fincher. In that film she worked with Dead Man Down director Oplev and produced a mini-miracle a performance. It still bums me out she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for her work.
In Dead Man Down Rapace and Oplev are both a bit at sea, never finding the right tone or rhythm that this type of crime drama sorely needs. One moment it’s a gritty examination of revenge and the next it’s a dark romantic comedy. With neither theme getting the prime focus; it winds up just feeling disjointed and messy.
That’s too bad because Farrell (Total Recall) knows exactly what kind of film he’s in and works hard to give his character some added nuance and depth. Working for a villainous NYC crime boss (played too gently by Howard), his character is a brooding dude with a few secrets he’s working to keep hidden. So it’s natural that he’s intrigued by Rapace’s scarred (emotionally and physically) neighbor who lives with her mother (woefully underused but quite kooky Huppert, Amour)– their exchanges have some nice pop to them but no real chemistry is ever created.
Unfortunately, the blame falls on Rapace for that – her character often comes off as too child-like and twee. Even though I liked Rapace in Promethus more than most, US films haven’t quite found the right place for her – something that’s probably as frustrating for her as it is for her fans.
I kept waiting for the film to divert from its standard plot set-up and surprise me but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. You could tell there was a little nugget of a fine film waiting to be hatched but it didn’t have enough time to develop. This may be worth a rental down the line but as a film you need to see in theaters…I’d pass on it.