Movie Review: “Dead Man Down” – A Hot Mess

Written by Jesse Gelinas March 11, 2013

Colin Farrell in "Dead Man Down"

“You have no idea what you’re getting into!”

There is still originality in Hollywood. There is creativity and ingenuity, wit and charm. Unfortunately, so many filmmakers fall into that age old trap of not knowing what the shit they’re doing. “Dead Man Down” is one such transgressor. It has all the elements that should make a decent flick. A solid cast, a proven foreign director, a half-decent theme to build the plot around, so why does it have to fail at every turn? Why is it such a jumbled mess of a movie? My guess is, they got so wrapped up in crafting stellar performances and stylish editing, that they forgot about the details. Like plot and storytelling.

Colin Farrell plays Victor, a rising gangster with a score to settle. His boss, Alphonse is under threat by a mysterious messenger who has begun killing his crew. Of course Victor is behind it. Of course he has a solid vengeance motive, and of course this is revealed in the first fifteen minutes. Added to this familiar mix is the wild card: Noomi Rapace is Beatrice, Victor’s amorous neighbour who knows what kind of killer he is and wishes him to take out the man who scarred her in a car accident years earlier. Obviously, this leads to many romantic situations.

“They killed my wife. They thought they killed me, and they should’ve made sure.”

On the positive end, Farrell and Rapace are great together. She’s a real gem ad shines throughout the film. Going from cute, to psychotic, to sympathetic, and back to cute again effortlessly. Farrell gives another solid go at one of his more familiar roles as the angry tough guy with the heart of gold. The film also contains a few pretty decent action scenes with some really slick editing that will keep the visually inclined quite interested throughout even the boring parts of the “plot”.

Noomi Rapace in "Dead Man Down"

Now about that plot… it’s essentially nonexistent. I mean, it’s there; it’s just presented horribly. Things that should be secret are revealed instantly, and things that we need to know are completely hidden from us. More than once, the meaning of a scene is entirely reliant on a single throwaway line shoehorned in at the end of the conversation. This routine grows old quickly and makes the writer’s failed “twists” quite tiresome. Added to this, the film wastes no time actually trying to build to its Commando-esque climax that comes the fuck out of nowhere. The biggest flaw is probably the fact that Beatrice is supposedly so badly scarred that she is forever traumatized and ridiculed by all who lay eyes on her. The problem though, is that she spends the entire film in cut-off shirts, looking entirely snog-able. Well, suspension of disbelief, right?

“Revenge… I never thought of it until now.”

“Dead Man Down” is a travesty of film making and storytelling. The plot is everywhere. The themes are muddled. The entire point of Farrell’s fleeting Hungarian identity is hazy at best. It does however sport a certain charm in its characters and style. Not enough to save it, but enough to not totally condemn it. This isn’t the worst flick you’ll ever catch on DVD, but just be glad you’ll never have to go rent it on DVD. Just wait until it’s on TV or Netflix or some such free nonsense.

My Rating: 5/10

Theatrical poster for "Dead Man Down"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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