Director Niels Arden Oplev
Starring Colin Ferrell, Noomi Rapace, Terence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, F. Murray Abraham, Armand Assante
Written by J.H. Wyman
A good movie with a stupid title is often impossible to overcome. Dead Man Down is a multi-tiered revenge tale in which a mobster Alphonse Hoyt (Howard) feels the earth shift below him as someone picks his men off one by one, He is fooled by his pursuer into going after the wrong targets, and in doing so, opens up a whole new set of problems. Meanwhile, a hit man Victor (Farrell) in his employ is blackmailed by his neighbor Beatrice (Rapace) into doing her will. Her wish: kill the man who disfigured her. All of these elements are quietly played by the leads, with a skill that is worth a much better title.
Many aspects of the story, as written by Wyman and directed by Oplev, work quite effortlessly. The chemistry between Rapace and Farrell feels genuine. This is nothing new for Rapace, who can get the most out of any material. Farrell has rarely been better. He perfectly underscores his character’s motivations and as the situation changes, it changes him. For once, his lack of charisma is just the right touch. The developments between them and the quizzical terror felt by Hoyt is quite entertaining. It was good enough to make one wonder how good this film by the original director of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo could be.
Not faring so well is the storyline with earnest company man Darcy (Miller) who is working to find out who is after his boss. It’s inevitable from the first frame that the burgeoning friendship between he and Victor plays a role in the end. Instead of adding an element of surprise, the last 1/4 of the movie turns into a Segal flick. It’s at that point when it became clear that the title of the film fit completely.
(*** out of *****)