"Dead Man Down"
4 out of 5 stars
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 21:03
“Dead Man Down” stars Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace as neighbors and sometimes star-crossed lovers, each with a troubling past and a vengeance for those who caused the pain they now live with. The two are brought together by a mutual passion for revenge, but the passion that grows between them evokes an innocence that is both charming and compelling.
Victor (Farrell) begins as a dark and violent enigma, but as he opens up about his past to Beatrice (Rapace), he reveals a depth of character and heart that makes his motives understandable and empathetic. Beatrice’s past is not so mysterious and not nearly as scandalous, but the elaborate scar it left on her face constantly reminds her of the car accident with a drunk driver who was let off with just a slap on the wrist.
Beatrice initially blackmails Victor into helping her achieve revenge, but once the two exchange their tales of woe, she becomes much more invested in his complex plan—and more invested in him overall.When Victor reveals his secrets to Beatrice, a strong though unspoken bond is formed between the two characters, and the film makes it very clear that this connection is one of the few things that is stable in their lives.
The film is Danish director Niels Arden Oplev’s American debut, and it bears the trademark of his aesthetics, as seen in the original “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” The film is as dark and gritty as its scenery, but there are moments of light. These moments make you forget this is a film noir (a dark and cynical movie) as they make the characters forget their past and their pain, if only for an instant.
While the premise for the plot stands on shaky ground and there are elements that demand a great deal of suspension of disbelief, the story unfolds rapidly and thoughtfully enough to hold the viewer’s attention. The plot has many layers, all of which come to a head in the final scene.
It is hard to say whether the final shoot-out is predictable or not. The extensive action scene is a defining element of the genre, but this film sets it apart from other action-thrillers with its lack of violence. Without that scene, the film might be placed in another genre entirely.
“Dead Man Down” is an intricate fusion of a number of cinematic elements. There is action and suspense, but there is also a mob, a romance and a good amount of comic relief as well—much of it coming from Beatrice’s adorable mother who is hard of hearing and cannot stand it when people do not return her Tupperware.