By Shiryn Ghermezian, EnStarz | Mar 06, 2013 02:01 PM EST
Dead Man Down explained simply enough revolves around the idea of taking a life for a life.
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev - the Danish visionary behind the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - the action thriller set in New York follows a crime lord's right hand man and the stranger he gets attracted to originally because of their mutual desire for revenge.
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Colin Farrell plays Victor, a man who lost everything dear to him and wants someone to pay for it. He meets Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), his apartment complex neighbor, and they become somewhat accomplices in helping each other spill the bloodshed they desire.
Farrell took on the role following 2012's Seven Psychopaths perhaps hoping that this year's film will receive the recognition last year's failed to gather. However, his Down character seemed to confuse the audience a bit. Look at it this way: an Irish actor with his own thick accent plays a Hungarian character who in the film says he tried to lose his Hungarian accent and replace it with a New York one.
Farrell's attempt, and fail, at layering accents resulted in my friend asking me during the film screening if Farrell was playing an Irish character.
Not a good sign.
On the other hand, he does provide a good amount of action in the film reminiscent of his Total Recall and S.W.A.T days. His character is determined, focused, displays impressive rifle skills and gets rid of anyone in his way. He hangs one guy off of a building and kills another by letting rats climb all over his body. Gruesome but expected considering Oplev's graphic big screen adaptation of Dragon Tattoo.
Viewers commend Victor for his vigilance and passion but question his motives and tactics, a contrast that makes him a character we do not know what to make of until the film is over. He deceives the world about who he is all in the hopes of doing what he things is right, which is killing others to appease his own suffering. His character is no doubt complex and that creates a certain intrigue for viewers to follow him through his journey.
Terrace Howard plays a crime lord that, with his tailored suits and pocket squares, prefers to just sit and look pretty most of the time. A memorable scene in the film takes place in the closet of his home; a revelation surfaces and Howard fights for his life right in front of his shelves of sneakers and leather shoes.
"Yes" to him having great style but "No" to being a crime boss who evokes fear and stands among The Godfather Victor Corleone's of film.
The real star of the film is Rapace for the many faces her character has. Beatrice has compassion for Victor but then blackmails him; viewers feel bad for her (facial disfiguration is a hard thing to ignore), then hate her, then love her. By herself she drove the film through its journey, seeking her own retribution while getting close to Farrell and his tangled web of deception.
It would be expected when there is only one woman in the film that she would fall in love with the male lead, so it is not a spoiler to reveal that it in fact did happen in Down. However, the romance itself has a twisted plot that is ever the more capturing. Beatrice and Victor's connection is one driven by their joint desire for revenge and their chase following a strong sense of hatred and resentment to those who have caused them harm.
Dead Man Down opens in theaters March 8. The film is rated R.
Grade: B +
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