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Dead Man Down (2 stars)

Overlong and silly crime drama starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace

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Dead Man Down

This convoluted thriller's nondescript title is a pointer to its flaws: unfocused and overlong, its swill of criminal characters and sub-plots feel like an unfinished work-in-progress, thrown together and stamped with a generic title whose meaning is anyone’s guess. Writer JH Wyman seems to have been aiming for a Departed-style multi-layered crime piece, dealing with an undercover gang member with long-held plans for revenge, but the elements of the story are so artlessly tied together, and told with such wilful seriousness, that the whole thing feels preposterous and silly.

Colin Farrell plays Victor, a violent gangster with a soulful look in his eyes, while Noomi Rapace is Beatrice, the scarred car accident victim who lives in the apartment building opposite him. After a solid opening action scene in which Victor’s boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard) and his men are involved in a tense shoot out, the film shifts into turgid character drama territory, as Victor and Beatrice form what could possibly be a romantic connection. Then things get very silly very quickly, as Beatrice reveals her true motivation to Victor in a scene that - in what may be an unconscious comment on the script from the film’s director - involves cars crashing all around them. From this point on it’s best just to hang on and wait for the final ten minutes, in which all pretense of seriousness disappears in favour of an over-the-top action finale so enjoyable that it almost makes the preceding 100 minutes worth sitting through.

The film is the English language debut of Niels Arden Oplev, who previously directed the original version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That was good, and worth revisiting; this is best forgotten.

General release from Fri 3 May.

Dead Man Down

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 118 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
  • Written by: J.H. Wyman
  • Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard
  • UK release: 3 May 2013

Victor (Farrell) is a gangster who forms a potential romantic connection with car accident victim Beatrice (Rapace), but then it turns out that Beatrice wants something from him. Wilfully serious and convoluted thriller; the action scenes, although enjoyable enough, don't make up for the artless and unfocused construction.

Dead Man Down Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Colin Farrell Movie HD

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