From someone who did enjoy Fringe, a science-fiction theme television series with a cult hit and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, an international crime thriller adaptation of one of the best-selling novels; Dead Man Down is an intriguing movie that shares both connections. Fringe’s writer J.H. Wyman scripts this movie while director Niels Arden Oplev goes back behind the camera following the wild success of Dragon Tattoo. While the result of the combination is vague, it is surprisingly also a strong movie that reminiscent good old 60’s or 70’s crime drama. The movie carries the neo-noir work with satisfaction.
Release Date: 8 March 2013
Running Time: 118 minutes
Distributor: Nusantara Edaran Filem (FilmDistrict)
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Screenplay: J.H. Wyman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper
Plot: Niels Arden Oplev, the acclaimed director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes his American theatrical debut with the new action thriller, DEAD MAN DOWN. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star as two strangers who are irresistibly drawn to one another by their mutual desire for revenge. The film co-stars Academy Award (R) nominee Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper, from a screenplay by J.H.Wyman (Fringe)
The criminal kingpin Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard) has been receiving numerous deadly threats from an anonymous source for almost three months now. During the shoot-out with a rival Jamaican gang whom he believes responsible, Victor (Colin Farrell) saves his life and gains Alphonse’s trust. But when the continuing threats on Alphonse become even bigger and more intense, Darcy (Dominic Cooper), a man within Alphonse’s crew and Victor’s best friend, is determined to investigate the real source of the threats. By following several leads, Darcy discovers that the threat may have something to do with a Hungarian named Laszlo Kerick whom Alphonse’s crew has killed almost two years ago. In the same time, Victor’s path comes across with a mysterious woman, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) who lives in the apartment across from his with her mother.
While the movie suffers from sloppy pace, the plot build-up is efficiently stroked and created to culminate with a bigger and satisfying reward. The revenge drama started out slow and burdening thick in essence but nevertheless, is explored well on many angles. The thriller justifies the early plot twist with powerful characterization, raw but immersive emotion and romance. Even when the plot seems a little absurd at times, Wyman manages to carefully insert precious details and clues, as well as ample gritty and dark tones at the right place. While the plot could have done a better job than merely just piloting the story through to the end, the real strength comes in the form of characterization. Wyman and Oplev shape the two leads with perfection – Victor and Beatrice are introduced with sufficient emotional-driven motivations and goals from the past. The scene involving the two staring each other at the balcony of their apartment evokes a sense of romance that marries into this revenge drama with subtlety.
In the end, Dead Man Down delivers a compelling revenge and crime drama; which is effectively dipped with recognizable neo-noir flavour and good character study, but its sloppy pace and burdening plot derivation could be a huddle for some.
Last Reviewed by Bernard Patrick Chung on June 16 2013