Dead Man Down doesn’t match the hype

(older movie reviews with a fresh coast of paint)

Dead Man Down asks us to take a ride with two tormented souls on their journey to revenge.   In the end, the run isn’t worth the sweat any moviegoer will produce after finishing this film.  The story is a decent setup and gives high hopes for an entertaining thriller.  Victor(Farrell) and Beatrice(Rapace) are neighbors who discover that they share a common trait and goal.   Someone has wronged them in the past and they find a little courage in each other to set things right.  Throw in a little blackmail, some romance, a dead family with a scarred face and you have this twisted uneven poorly paced action thriller.  Farrell and Rapace are wasted in woodenly written roles that create zero sparks between them and Terrence Howard relies on his old overplayed tricks in playing a bad man meeting his fate.

Dead Man Down can’t decide if it want to be a straight up action thriller or something more, and it takes forever figuring that out.   In the process, my patience was fried.  Director Niels Oplev, who helmed the original Girl With A Dragon Tattoo with Rapace, seems lost here in this clichéd American thriller.  There are elements of an action film, thriller, romance ingrained in this film but neither ingredient tastes good when the dish hits your table in the nearly 2 hour running time. 

I never carried much sympathy for the two lead characters, even though their stories were indeed tragic.  Farrell is understated to a fault and Rapace never sheds the disgraced agony of Beatrice long enough to produce a multi-faceted character worth rooting for.  I don’t blame the actors here but a painfully unimpressive script.

Film District/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Romantic scenes between Farrell and Rapace are awkward and careless.  These are talented actors worthy of better material but it’s not to be found here.  The cinematography from Paul Cameron is stunning, drowning the city of New York in shades of black and blue and illuminating the night with a classy glaze.  If the rest of the crew were as inspired as the man responsible for designing the playground, the result would be more favorable for viewing.

Bland acting, lackluster directing and a bloody final battle fail to redeem a criminally paced film.   The middle 45 minutes seems to take forever to push the story into its final act and when it’s there you feel like a different movie takes shape and it’s one you don’t care about.  Small rewards exist here but do little to leave a real dent in you. There’s a lovely bit with Isabella Huppert playing Beatrice’s mother but it’s never developed and a somewhat intriguing moral about changing your own life with the help of another, but the movie never carries a sliver of heartfelt emotional storytelling.   Dead Man Down disappoints and worse than that it never produced a payoff that the cast, director, and trailer seemed to produce going in. Save this one for DVD folks.

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