Dead Man Down (2013) Poster

(2013)

User Reviews

Review this title
131 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
An intelligent thriller that takes its time dishing out retribution.
TheSquiss13 May 2013
Dead Man Down is a surprise and an exceptionally rewarding viewing experience. This is an intelligent thriller packed with action that takes its time to unfold and finally wanders off into the sunset leaving the viewer invigorated and satisfied, but ready for another bout.

Victor (Colin Farrell) is a player in in gangland kingpin Alphonse's (Terrence Howard) empire and, though he gives the appearance of being Alphonse's right-hand man, his intentions towards the crime lord are decidedly darker. Meanwhile, the girl in the apartment opposite, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), watches him dispatch an adversary and blackmails him into dishing out a generous serving of retribution that she herself is unable (or unwilling) to administer.

Neils Arden Oplev (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and currently shooting Stephen King's Under the Dome) peels back layer after layer to reveal ever-rawer characters and emotions in Dead Man Down. It isn't just about unfolding the story, though he does so beautifully, it is more about filling out the characters carefully so that we understand what makes them tick. No, what makes them angry.

There are some severely damaged characters on display here but their emotions, their actions, come across as not just understandable but entirely justified. Forget petty crooks with violent whims, Victor and Beatrice have given serious thought to their revenge but that doesn't make them shallow or irredeemable.

While Victor bubbles along in a coldly, organized manner, Beatrice rages under her skin. On the surface she is the cool cat but the confusion, the maelstrom of rage, bitterness and loss, swirls within her so that she is potentially dangerous to herself and Victor. It is tempting to use the old cliché of both Farrell and Rapace 'never being better' but it isn't true in her case; she is frequently this good, even if the films don't always match her talent. In Farrell's case, he has so many under-performing films (London Boulevard, Tigerland) and the odd turkey (Total Recall) on his CV that it is easy to forget that he is generally on very fine form. Don't believe me? Look again at Phone Booth, In Bruges…

Howard has a reputation in the industry of being 'difficult' (note the recasting of Colonel Rhodes in the Iron Man sequels) but his body of work is extraordinary and the intensity of his performance in Dead Man Down makes it blindingly obvious why he's a good bet on screen. There's no Nicolas Cage-type ranting, just a considered, quiet violence to his Alphonse.

Dominic Cooper slips along in Dead Man Down, not at all unremarkable, but just another fine actor and a superbly cast film. As Darcy, another of Alphonse's mob and friend of the traitorous Victor, he comes across as a good(ish) guy who's unfortunate to be caught up in entirely the wrong job in the wrong place at the wrong time. He doesn't steal scenes here but he fills them out, he completes them, knowing his place in the hierarchy of the mob and his billing in the film.

Oplev has crafted a very fine thriller indeed. The drama excites, the explosions scorch the skin but what makes Dead Man Down stand above so many others in the genre (I'm talking to you, Welcome to the Punch) is not the ramped up action but the stillness and the time and care he takes over his characters and the setting of the atmosphere. He allows us time to enjoy the clinking of ice-cubes in glasses as Victor and Beatrice consider each other and, strangely for a director of an action flick, allows the dialogue to do the talking rather than the gunshots and the car chases.

Dead Man Down is at times gentle but always thrilling and the pauses in the action don't ever detract from the pace. Conversely, they make it more intense and a film that truly deserves to register at the box office in spite of the big-buck, megastar vehicles of Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. I fear it will be another 'underperforming' film on Farrell's CV, but don't for a minute confuse that with being a flop. The dead man might be down but he definitely isn't out.

For more reviews from The Squiss, subscribe to my blog and like the Facebook page.
97 out of 119 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
American Neo-Noir meets romantic European fable
dvc51598 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
He looks out the window in the night sky after a long day's work, thinking of what has become of himself. Across his apartment balcony, in the window of the building opposite his, stares a woman, solemn, pained. Their eyes meet, and, slowly, they wave at each other. Not a word was spoken.

Subtle scenes like these evoke memories of the raw power of film - it is emotion, not words or sometimes action - that drive a motion picture. Thing is, Vic is a thug working for a ruthless mobster; and Beatrice is a traumatized victim of a car accident. The subtlety will not last long, but it does make healthy re-appearances.

Niels Arden Oplev's "Dead Man Down" is the English-language debut (third this year overall following two Korean efforts) of the Swedish filmmaker famous for the original "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" film. He even brought along his star Noomi Rapace for the ride. It is a joy to see a modern filmmaker who cares for and loves his characters as much as the audience expects themselves to, that we are invested in them strongly and want to see them succeed. He crafts the film with love, as the cinematography gracefully dances around the characters, as if it was a complex ballet intrigue and hidden motives. Do we really want to right that wrong? Will it be worth it in the end? For us and for our loved ones?

The movie is, first and foremost, a revenge thriller. But surprisingly, it is also a compelling love story. From the moment the film opens we are thrust into the urban jungle of New York City (accentuated with a moody and atmospheric score by Jacob Groth, composer of the original "Millennium" trilogy), but with a poignant yet meaningful statement by Vic's friend Darcy (Cooper). Writer J.H. Wyman uses strands of earlier revenge films, twisty film-noirs and the classic melodramatic romance of earlier Hollywood films and incorporated them into his screenplay. Oplev transforms the screenplay, with such passionate energy and inventiveness, that the whole film somehow resembles a classic romantic European fable - sort of like this big tough warrior who falls in love with a wounded soul in a far-away and dangerous land, and both become kindred spirits. It is engrossing and captivating to watch the characters actually become real human beings, instead of being caricatures. This is a film where the characters' decisions affects what happens next.

The film would not succeed had it not been for the two leads, Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, followed by a strong and diverse supporting cast. Farrell is strong as Vic, big, tough but withdrawn and solemn, slowly hiding away his anguish and rage towards his real enemy. Rapace, an actress whom I'm starting to grow fond of, is quite wonderful as Beatrice, who is traumatized but is still capable of captivating the lonely Vic. She walks and talks with unease, but there are times where she switches gears and becomes intensely aggressive in her true goal, where it will reveal is eating her up slowly but surely. The strong chemistry between the duo make the movie much, much better than it was intended.

The rest of the cast consists of Terrence Howard as a deliciously ruthless and intimidating as the villain Alphonse (watch the scene where he confronts Vic in a dark apartment room, with backlighting in Paul Cameron's cinematography brilliantly capturing the essence of noir), Dominic Cooper giving Darcy a human and realistic portrayal of a stock crime film character, and brief but warmly welcome appearances of F. Murray Abraham and Isabelle Huppert.

This is a movie which has something for both guys and gals. Guys will go for the gritty story and the obligatory "Colin Farrell kicks ass" scenes, especially the violent climax. Women would go just to see Farrell the romantic, and the compelling chemistry between the two leads are enough to make them swoon over. But the film is so well made, the characters and story strongly developed and very compelling enough to hold my attention for two hours, that really, you couldn't ask for a more well rounded revenge thriller of late. This is a movie which actually is a real movie, instead of feeling like a movie or being a commercial/stunt/SFX reel. Kudos to especially Oplev, Farrell and Rapace for making a strong, real film about lovable characters.

No doubt the marketing for the film is way off (as an action thriller, as usual) and reveals quite too much. Doesn't matter. "Dead Man Down" is the finest and most meaningful revenge film in years.
99 out of 123 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Surprisingly Good Thriller!
g-bodyl19 July 2014
Dead Man Down is actually not a good thriller, but it is a great thriller. Some things may not be entirely believable, but then again we are often told to suspend our disbelief in these kind of movies, which I did. This thriller is a slow-burn thriller that focuses less on the action, but more on the characters and the retribution.

Oplev's film has a distinctive European feel to it and that is how I like my thrillers. But this film is about a man named Victor who is the right-hand man of a crime lord named Alphonse and has a very mysterious past. But he is seduced by a car crash victim named Beatrice, who is a mysterious woman herself. But together, they plot to bring Alphonse to justice.

For a film such as this, it has a pretty talented cast. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace share such intimate chemistry with each other. It's a shame Farrell is not a high box-office draw these days because he got so much talent. Terrence Howard does a very good job, and it's nice to see him shine in a villainous role for once. There is a nice cameo by F. Murray Abraham as well and I like it because we definitely don't see much of him anymore.

Overall, Dead Man Down is much better than what people are making it out to be. It's a slow-burn thriller, not an action shoot-em-up as apparently people were expecting. There are going to be logic issues, but I'm very good at suspending my disbelief, because I'm watching a fictional movie. But this is a well-acted thriller and one of the better films of 2013. I rate this film 9/10.
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A fascinatingly grim look at revenge and, less commonly, the aftermath.
GoneWithTheTwins7 March 2013
The revenge genre is often a tired one. The majority are either so sullen that they lose sight of what makes these fantasies entertaining or too silly to offer any glimpse of realism or consequence. "Dead Man Down" offers just the right amount of grittiness to be taken seriously, but also maintains its own identity with a heavy focus on character development and a more philosophical viewpoint on the nature of getting even. The vengeful gangster and his plight may be a repetitive backstory, but the cryptic structuring, attention to emotion, and competent acting strengthens the refreshingly fluctuating twists. While the conclusion digresses into a prosaic, albeit satisfying action sequence, it doesn't dilute the antiheros' uniquely warped relationship or their infectiously harsh personalities.

When crime lord Alphonse's (Terence Howard) men begin turning up murdered, along with enigmatic clues elaborating on the responsible party, the gangster looks to his henchmen Victor (Colin Farrell) and Darcy (Dominic Cooper) for answers. But Victor has his own plans, including a labored revenge scheme against those that wronged him in the past. As he steadily brings his complex machinations to fruition, he starts an unlikely relationship with his neighbor, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), an emotionally damaged woman with desires just as ominous as his. Forced into a vicious cycle of vengeance, Victor must attempt to not only satisfy his demons but also salvage the soul of his newfound companion.

Adorned with an impossibly generic title, "Dead Man Down" is unexpectedly an absorbingly unique revenge fantasy. Devoid of the typical action, adventure, and beauteous damsels-in-distress, it is instead a morbidly dark, fascinatingly grim look at revenge and, less commonly, the aftermath. The emotions experienced by the hateful, the murderous, and the defensive are scrutinized beyond the normal array of purely evil entities undergoing deserved comeuppance. Nothing is black and white in the film – instead, every character is tinged with complications and questionable qualities, making this group of antiheroes unpredictable, sympathetic, or repugnant in alternating turns.

It's rare to see a crime thriller spend so much time on character development. It's also quite welcome – the ulterior motives, extortive attitudes, and sabotage aren't awkwardly spontaneous but rather sensible operations for generously analyzed mentalities. These aren't cardboard cutouts; and excessive dialogue doesn't make up for lack of substance. Instead, director Niels Arden Oplev opts for prolonged, brooding facial communications that convey much more than stale words. It's a feat for Farrell to be so convincing as an implacable gangster (his best role since "In Bruges") and Rapace is sensational as an equally bitter survivor who literally wears the scars of mental anguish on her face. Howard is one of the few weak spots, once again taking a sinister role and making it apprehensive. And although the climax embodies the raging, explosive visualization of suspenseful retribution that audiences crave (a contrasting culmination for the sake of crowd-pleasing action), it's the contrived satisfaction "Dead Man Down" needs to soften the blow of such a severe, serious series of retaliations.

  • The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
72 out of 94 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Above average revenge thriller
SubaruOkiya8 June 2013
On paper it hardly sounds original. Hero's wife and child killed by gang. Hero seeks to get revenge on gang. But the fact that the opening scene , nor indeed any other thereafter shows this heinous crime suggests there is considerably more thought and drama in Dead Man Down than one might expect. It all starts when a criminal gang led by Kingpin Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard) find one of their number in a freezer with a few twisted clues left by his killer. As Hoyt seeks revenge on the man responsible we see Victor (Colin Farrell) as his trusted right hand man saving his life whilst he looks to serve street justice on those suspected of offing his chums. Not is all as it seems, however, as the truth is slowly revealed throughout the film. Characters are far less one dimensional than your average goon. Victor's co-gangster buddy Darcy talking about an appreciation for life now he has a wife and child, with an investigative mind like Colombo, Hoyt's silently menacing demeaner leaving you wondering if he knows more than he is letting on, the list goes on. Even love interest Naomi Rapace has her own agenda as a woman scarred after a horrific car accident. It makes proceeding more deep than you average Hollywood action flick. The lost wife and child element is told through a torn photo and old videos of happier times and not overplayed. There is no in your face execution scene here, allowing the audience to make up their own mind as to what actually happened. Instead the focus is on story and character development making the proceedings far more thoughtful than most films in it's genre. a refreshing change which actually adds an air of mystery rather than gung-ho machismo. This does mean that Dead Man Down is not as action packed as the trailer may lead you to believe. This is far more about the set up than the act itself. There are action moments of course, especially the final climax, but the focus is more on building up subtle tension rather than plenty of shooty bang. It's nicely shot too, not to glamorous not bleak and the story plods at a nice steady pace. Definitely worth a watch and something different to the usual revenge film.
33 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Well Beyond What Most Hollywood Films Think They Are...
transientdreams22 June 2013
I honestly had to sit in contemplative amazement for few minutes after watching this film just to digest how well it was done. Every scene delivered a certain level of excellence that was surpassed by the next simply by building levels of uncertainty while carrying the story forward with almost an anticipated reluctance of sorts. Of the many thousands of action movies I've seen in the last 30 years, I would put this in the top 5. Astonishing directing, set design, acting, and a brooding atmosphere that works, mixed with a romantic/revenge tale of crossed messages born of emotional extremes in a multi-context of meanings.

It's a movie that never loses sight of what it originally intends, nor does it pander to taste or pretend to be better than it is. The script is solid and seamless. There are some shortcomings as to continuity and perspective of a linear timeline, but there is SO much emotion in even the smallest scenes as to make this almost trivial. I believe this is a masterpiece of directing overall that goes far beyond the mediocre nature of even the best of Hollywood's action films. It has a passionate heart with a brutal honesty that involves vulnerability conflicting with its own desire for the desolation of complete resolve regardless of circumstance.

When you see a movie of this quality, it is certainly difficult to put another one in the DVD player. Just like graduating high school makes it impossible to want to repeat the 11th grade.
71 out of 99 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
lemon chicken
carrot_handvo8 March 2013
In the seemingly police-less gangland, Dead Man Down takes you through a labyrinth of visually distinct fascinating characters in an existential approach to both the dilemmas of revenge an their consequences. The action is not superfluous and hollow, but done in a way where each beat is well orchestrated with both real purpose and visual panache.

Through the "doll like" character Beatrice and her adjacent complex neighbor Victor, this film manages to portray an engrossing romantic angle highlighted by its believability through the shear awkward yet genuineness of their interactions. After the tonal shift of the reveal there becomes a form dark energy of rapidness that engulfs them. The eyes of Beatrice become dark and manic, full of pain, culminating in an iconic car sequence of dizzying passion.

Alphonse is a very convincing crime lord at the edge of his mental ropes. In a certain scene you can see the instability as his character while he sits in the shadows eying Victor like a shark as he walks into the frame. An effective rendition of a classy character in command after working their way to the top having to once again become savage in order to remain atop his hill. With his main goons we have Killroy the seven foot tall muscular man with the deep booming voice, Terry the skinny tattoo covered man, and Darcy the smart friend of Vicker who becomes the scariest character in his on right.

This film has the pacing and build like an old crime film, complete with dramatic emotionally spilling performances down to its very ending note. The dialog and characters are so fascinating that when the violence begins occurring you generally care about them. The message is not one glorifying revenge as many films succumb to, but one showing the results of their outcome, which the film has many variations of each character must deal with on their own. This film is an original Neo Noir and a complex brooding character piece strung together with the dazzling imagery of humanity and laced through fragile ephemeral happiness. The kind of film that has become a rarity at the box office. Fantastic performances all around.
74 out of 115 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Double Dose of Revenge
David Ferguson9 March 2013
Greetings again from the darkness. On the surface, this looks like just another early season crime thriller. From that perspective, it works well enough. However, there are some elements that add complexity and interest, and set this one above the usual. It's directed by Niels Arden Oplev who was responsible for the original (and very cool) Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This looks to be his first English language feature and he re-teams with the exciting and talented Noomi Rapace.

The film begins with a body in the freezer, and crime boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard) and his crew solving the mystery of who killed his friend and associate. Someone has been tormenting Alphonse with little clues and he falls right into the trap of jumping to conclusions. One member of his crew is Victor (Colin Farrell). We slowly learn more about Victor thanks to an awkward and slow connection between he and his neighbor Beatrice (Ms. Rapace). Their initial acknowledgment of each other is an exchange of waves between balconies. It's an effective visual.

The movie bounces between crime thriller and romantic/love story. The added fun of secret missions from both Victor and Beatrice provide the twist this one needs. Actually there are 4-5 exceptional scenes in the movie which make up for the often plodding pace ... not typically a good thing for a thriller. The pieces are greater than the whole, but that doesn't mean it's not an interesting watch.

In addition to Farrell, Rapace and Howard, we get some really enjoyable support work from Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert and F Murray Abraham. Ms. Huppert in particular adds a touch of class and humor, and her character could have easily been expanded ... same for Mr. Abraham. Cooper plays an idealistic, but not so observant buddy to Victor and loyal crew member of Howard.

This one reminds at times of a couple of Mel Gibson revenge flicks: Payback and Edge of Darkness. What really helps here is the strength of the cast and unusual scars of Victor and Beatrice. A slightly tighter script and improved pacing would have jumped this one a level or two.
46 out of 69 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Great Movie
albert-peterlin18 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Every now and then a movie surprises you. Most movies emasculate the man. Then they masculinize the woman. Revenge. Love. The movie is awesome.

All time top 25. Don't watch it with anyone who likes to talk during movies. If you like the expendables, this movie isn't for you. If you like man on fire, this is a movie for you.

So many movies have a great premise but miss the mark. Heat. Law Abiding Citizen. Others, like the girl with the dragon tattoo or the taking of Pelham 123 exceed expectations. Dead man down is one of those movies that is deep, well developed, flows well, lets you get to know the primary characters. If there's a flaw it's the lack of realism with the action scenes. But the story line makes up for it. Oddly enough, the female character is actually as interesting, maybe more so, than the lead male. She's certainly a better actress than Colin Farrell is an actor.

Two thumbs up. Can't wait to watch it again.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
More than a thriller, it works your emotions, toys with them.
Warning: Spoilers
I've watched the movie before reading what the critics had to say and before any user reviews; if you like the actors and director, sometime it's best to do it this way, and it was for me. I really liked the movie, so I set out to read why it fared so poorly compared to my impressions. Some critics got the point and understood Oplev's approach, some didn't.

When a director attempts to give us as much reality as a work of fiction can deliver, that director will have to be unconventional at times and in the process lose critics' support. It's a path Niels Arden Oplev takes and has taken with some consistence.

The opening scene has Darcy, played by a fine British actor Dominic Cooper, and Victor the dark hero of this movie, played by Colin Farrell, engaged in a crucial and profound moment of philosophical bonding over the love of a man for his daughter and how such thing changes a person forever. It will not be apparent till much further into the movie how that bonding and the emotion shaped Victor's character. I feel the critics and many reviewers overlooked that entirely.

We are introduced slowly and methodically to each key character in the movie. The casting by the way was nothing short of great. From Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert to F. Murray Abraham as supporting roles, well, Howard was certainly more than just supporting. Oplev finds the time to have us discover what makes them tick, slowly he pursues this process; it is part of the unconventional approach I mentioned. The concept is nothing new but one rather forgotten nowadays or simply neglected. I believe he means to engage the audience in this manner and it will work for some but not for all; some audiences are more interested in the superficial and the big picture. The big picture here lies in the sum of the details. They add up to make the point that strong as revenge may consume a person, something stronger emerges eventually in the good that can be found in almost anyone. But I admit it is not conveyed with any sort of flash or grandiose revelation, it's done with subtlety.

Not so subtle are some violent and brutal scenes Oplev has delivered via Farrell's character when Victor is in full execution of his revenge plan. What a plan by the way. Few if any other reviews flaw that aspect of the movie, because it has all the necessary thriller elements one needs for a strong build up and denouement.

I particularly liked the relation between Victor and Beatrice, played by Rapace, from the misleading innocent beginning to the classic all hell breaking loose when Victor thinks he's about to lose her to a bullet by Alphonse (Terrence Howard) or his crew. Beatrice's character is a complex one and it has apparently escaped some reviewers that complex characters don't play out like fairy tale ones. She is obsessed with revenge, as Victor is, but she is also a woman whose beauty has been robed from her and anyone not sensitive to such predicament will obviously not understand how well, truly great, she plays her part. When Farrell and Rapace gaze in each other's eyes, we get this convincing feeling that it will turn sexual, but that is a pleasure denied us; oh how intensely they gaze.

Based on Oplev's previous work, I don't think, given an unlimited budget and a choice of any actor he would like, that the director would have made that much of a different movie. Beauty as the saying goes is not found in perfection, but in the sum of the little flaws we somehow like and want to remain, just the way they are, art if you will. If you liked my review, you'll like the movie.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Good Tale of Revenge that Could Have Been Better and Better
Claudio Carvalho19 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The gangster Victor (Colin Farrell ) has been working for the powerful mobster Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard) for nine months and has the gratitude of the kingpin for saving his life during an attack to a Jamaican gang. When the criminal Paul is found dead and Alphonse receives pieces of a photo, he tries to discover who is behind the actions. He does not know that Victor is actually the Hungarian engineer Lazlo Kerick, a man who had his little daughter and his wife murdered by Alphonse. Victor has been carefully planning his revenge against Alphonse.

Out of the blue, his neighbor Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) from an apartment on the other side of the street, who has scars on the face due to a car accident, contacts him and shows a footage of Victor killing Paul. She tells that if he does not kill the man that hit her and destroyed her life, she will deliver the footage to the police. The reluctant Victor accepts the deal and after successive encounters, they develop attraction for each other.

"Dead Man Down" is a good tale of revenge that could have been great with improvements in the story and a better conclusion. The gangsters are too dumb and never suspects of Victor. The make-up of Noomi Rapace is very poor for a traumatized woman due to her scars. Further, her character does not inspire pity from the viewers. The character of Isabelle Huppert is silly and pointless, wasting the talent of this magnificent French actress. But the worst is the senseless conclusion, with the stupid attitude of Beatrice that does not post the memory card, just to give the chance to the usual clichés with car crash, shootings and explosions. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Sem Perdão" ("No Mercy")
10 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
A short story about love hidden in a crime thriller.
aimeeinchains9 March 2013
I'll admit; this isn't my typical kind of film. I only went because the writer is Joel Wyman. I am a huge fan of FRINGE, a science fiction/family drama for which he served as show-runner, and as a writer. I was pleasantly surprised: it's not too shabby. The film uses an intricate little plot about Farrell's character's motivations, and how he was going to exact his revenge..

Wyman seems to go for common themes in his work - love, building something, family, and connections. Although there is an underlying theme about love, the film does not skip out on the action: This is a story about revenge in the name of love, and there are several scenes in which people die in the most terrible ways imaginable. Right at the start even, when our characters get involved in a little "game."

Maybe I am a huge softie, but when we first meet Victor and Beatrice, who had been staring at each other across from their respective apartments, I felt very emotional about a specific gesture in the scene. There's a bit of a slow buildup, but that is suddenly dashed when we find out why Beatrice has really been watching Victor. Turns out she is need of a bit of revenge, and she has some proof of something that could get Victor into a lot of trouble. As the plot progresses, these two seem to develop genuine feelings for one another. Victor lost something precious to him, and both could understand the need to make those responsible for their pain, pay.

My chief beefs with the film stem around a few things.

First, Farrell... well, I hope he deliberately looked like he was staring into the distance all the time. I guess he had that thousand- yard-stare because of his family and his hopes to avenge them at all costs, but Farrell left me flat. Noomi Rapace was OK, but I liked her much better in Prometheus. I found her Beatrice mostly annoying, although her back-story was heartfelt, and I understood how she felt. In my opinion, Terrence Howard is the winner here; his Alphonse, a truly disgusting sociopath.

Second, the love part was a hard sell for me because of the terms in which Victor and Beatrice become involved. But, then again, they did share a deep hurt, so they seemed to understand one another. Not the best love story ever, but good enough for a film.

Like many films, this one uses an object to convey some kind of meaning. I won't spoil it here, but I liked its use. There is also some nice use of cinematography.

It was fun and I felt my money was well spent.
34 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Messy film that could have been a lot better
siderite7 July 2013
It is really hard for me to rate this film because it is a mix of great and horrid bits. Colin Farrell's quiet yet intense act is matched by Naomi Rapace's hysterical overacting, the rather complex plot is messed up by cliché scenes and in the end, the moral seems to be that all plans that you care about are a lot easier to accomplish if there are no friends and romantic interests.

The thing with the film is that it has a lot going for it: great cast, good acting most of the time, a compelling story with just the right amount of details to make the plot a lot better than most Hollywood productions. Somewhere along the way it turns sour, the feeling someone gets when expecting to have fun at a party, only to have it all soiled by the significant's other discomfort. In the end the revenge feels failed, the romance doomed, the second chance just that: chance.
25 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Dead Man Down: A crime thriller that benefits from strong performances but ultimately fails to deliver.
trublu2158 March 2013
The greatest part of watching Dead Man Down was hands down the performances, Noomi Repace is absolutely a spell binding actress with unbelievable capabilities as an actress, an it shows in this film. Colin Farrell turns in a likable performance as Victor however, one must wonder if most of his performance was left on the cutting room floor, as with the rest of the film. While the film gains momentum within the first 5 minutes, it then is bogged down with a poorly executed shootout that left you straining your eyes and your brain to make it become sensible but, it never does. In fact, the film as a whole is quite a character driven piece that left the audience wanting to know the resolutions more clearly instead of wondering in convoluted plot twists that become bothersome due to the fact that it becomes a shoot 'em up action film in the third act. Normally, that would be the way to end this type of film if there wasn't so much character development. The film starts to have the milk or the cookies dilemma. On one hand, you have these fantastic performances around the board, each scene giving more and more insight into each character's psyche and then you have these epic scenes of action violence. Unfortunately, the film needed to be told as one or the other. Is it supposed to be clever? Is it supposed to be an action film? Those are some of the questions you'll be asking yourself. Overall, It felt as if the film was confused as to what it wanted to be. At the end of the day, Dead Man Down is a two star movie with 4 star performances. The end product is something that is better left as a rental but definitely worth a one time watch.
37 out of 62 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Revenge is a dish best served cold
valadas2 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A Hungarian engineer that emigrated to USA sees his wife and little daughter murdered by a gang that believes he was also killed at the same occasion. He has however survived the attack (we don't know exactly how) and decides to plan and execute a cold vengeance by killing the murderers one by one using for that several stratagems and also his technical skill after having infiltrated himself in the gang and acting as one of its accepted members. The story which is a bit weak in terms of logic and credibility is very well told in images and scenes till its brutal ending. in the thick of this there is a subplot that turns slowly out to be sentimental in which a young woman whose face was disfigured by a car accident caused by a drunk driver wants also to revenge herself by making our man to kill that driver under the threat of denouncing him for one of his murders that she had furtively and by chance watched. Their relationship begins under this threat but is softening itself while time passes and several episodes involving them both occur. Notwithstanding the story which is a bit complicated and has a few loose ends the movie is well made, directed and acted and has lots of well performed action, riveting the spectator's attention during the whole projection. One last note for the sound track music which is lugubriously superb and contributes adequately to the movie atmosphere.
21 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Dead Man Down is More Alive than you could Possibly Imagine
Warning: Spoilers
Out of all the films I had the privilege of viewing in 2013, Dead Man Down would have to be my all time favorite. Every sentence is perfectly crafted and fits in beautifully with the movie; the acting is so realistic, you can almost reach out and literally touch the characters; and the storyline is so convincingly outstanding you cannot help but stare transfixed for the entirety of this masterpiece.

What is quite fascinating with the feature is the premise; the film begins several months into the story, and over the course of the first twenty five minutes, we, the audience, play catch-up, a technique which fabulously works.

The beginning lines by Dominic Cooper help pave the way for this tale of retribution, revenge and romance. Victor (Colin Farrell) is a man who works for renown crime boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard), however, at the same time, he has his own agenda, which is quickly revealed. His life takes an unforeseen turn when he is introduced to Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a young woman, with half her face corrupted by scars. Despite this, Ms. Rapace looks as gorgeous as ever, and the accent she uses, alongside her use of facial expression, is terrifically performed.

Forcing Victor into a corner, she intends to use him as a tool for vengeance, in order to punish the man whose car tore apart her life. During the film, Gregor (F. Murray Abraham), with a fantastic accent, and Beatrice's mother (Isabelle Huppert) help the two leading characters reconcile the lives they have in order to efficaciously move on. At the same time however, Alphonse is on the prowl, and like a box of matches, the fiery performance by Mr. Howard is extraordinary in the scenes he shares with Mr. Farrell.

The use of emotion, achieved through the exploration of characters and their backgrounds, make these individuals so exceptionally likable, and even the villains, you will simply love to hate. Focusing more on the building of tension rather than continued action sequences, a technique established through not just the atmosphere, but the environment itself, Dead Man Down moves at an intelligently steady gait until the final triumphant sequence, not one part of the film feeling as though it were unnecessarily rushed. Luis Da Silva Jr. as Terry and Stu Bennet as Kilroy also deserve a mention, and despite their small roles, they add an additional flavor to an already superb mix of characters.

I could not help but watch this film every night after first purchasing the title, and now, without further ado, by all means, go out and have yourself a blast; Dead Man Down is sure to not disappoint.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Perfect blending of plot and emotional story
bluejay5213 November 2013
Let me say right up front that this film is utterly superb. Perfectly scripted, cast, performed, and directed, it delivers all one could want and transcends its genre.

I'm shocked it doesn't rate higher in IMDb, but on reflection the reason is pretty obvious. Most of my fellow reviewers clearly wanted and expected the usual formulaic "guy flick" and didn't really know what to make if this film.

The standard action film favors plot over character development. "Chick flicks" do the opposite. Instead of falling in the former camp as one would expect from the title, Dead Man Down threads a skillful path between the two.

To have a completely satisfying movie, one needs plot and emotional story in balance. Too much of the former and you have a film reliant on guns, explosions, and helicopters to hold attention; too much of the latter, and a disproportionate focus on character and interpersonal reactions risks dismissal as a "chick flick."

In Dead Man Down, the objective and external story (i.e., the plot) and its underlying subjective and internal underpinnings (i.e., emotional story) are economically but poignantly blended by a director who coaxes understated performances from a stellar cast. And eliminating any doubt as to what this film is about, a peripheral character opens the film by stating its theme (it'll go right by you if you're not listening so pay attention). That's all I'll say here as my intent is to avoid spoilers.

Above all, I was struck by the clarity of storytelling, its avoidance of obvious or heavy-handed writing, and an over-the-top climax that's as satisfying as any guy-flick aficionado could want. I'm left feeling I know and care about the characters, and admiring the film's ultimate goodness of heart. For this, credit goes to the screenwriter. I'm his new greatest fan!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Intellignet , character based movie
Look3022 July 2013
This was unexpected , title steers you in a a different direction , i think who ever named this movie is responsible of putting it in big handicap position which this movie doesn't deserve . Most of the bad reviews are caused by this , people looking for a quick gangsta movie and being disappointed by the complexity and sheer humanity of this movie. The acting deserves a mention too , Farell was very compelling , hard to read in the beginning but managed to convey emotion which has become so rare these days, also great job done by the whole cast , credible and real acting and well written story. Definitely a movie i will put in my collection and watch it again with pleasure.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Well-acted but preposterous
normaniragelman4 January 2014
This film may be the English language debut of the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (Noomi Rapace) and she is again presented as physically scarred--in an automobile accident this time. But she is a powerful actress and she gets to show it in an over-the-top plot that pits a lone avenger (Colin Farrell) against an army of domestic thugs and criminals and immigrant killers. The ending especially is beyond preposterous and the plot line is so thoroughly confusing that some viewers may well give up in the middle or duck out for another helping of popcorn. For those addicted to cathartic violence, however, "Dead Man Down" delivers about as much as any of the apocalyptic movies of the day. More than enough to bore those who prefer something believable. One hopes that some future director will allow Ms. Rapace to appear as a normal and pretty human being in a plot that employs her considerable talents more usefully.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
Not awful, but awfully tame and poorly executed.
plpregent24 April 2014
There is always a big gamble with revenge flicks : these stories have been told so many times…it takes more than a few big names to make them memorable. Characters, dialogue, tension, subplots, impressive kills...If used properly, these elements will differentiate any formulaic revenge flick from the lot. While Dead Man Down is not a terrible movie, it's just another title that falls in the loop of quickly-released and just-as-quickly-forgotten anonymous revenge flicks.

The storyline makes for a synopsis a thousand times more interesting than the actual product resulting from its lazy execution. We've got two parallel quests for revenge, and neither of them is ever able to capture any sense of depth or avoid clichés, thanks to typical sequences of Farrell watching 8mm tapes of an afternoon in the park with the wife and daughter, where they just laugh and do every possible thing to look like the perfect little family. The other quest for revenge, which involves Noomi Rapace's character, stays on the shelf for nearly the entire runtime, which makes it hard for the average and not overly sensitive viewer to become emotionally involved (or to simply give a rat's ass about it) at any point.

The very few action sequences are poorly shot. There is not one moment where Colin Farrell is believable as a Hungarian mobster, nor is Noomi Rapace as a French woman that is both physically and emotionally scarred, thanks to the silly accents that both actors clumsily mimic. And while the acting may be Dead Man Down's strongest point (that says a lot), you can feel the cast is trying hard to bring some life to these frustratingly empty characters, especially Terrence Howard.

It is a very typical story, and for it to become something special, its basics had to be strong. And it is not the case. Instead of working on its characters, Dead Man Down prioritizes clichéd rubbish visual elements to add some sort of an intrigue feel that never materializes. From the picture puzzle to the bars on the "f"s, the ensemble feels like it was written to feel way more complex than it actually is.

Visually, Dead Man Down is equal to its script : we've seen this a thousand times already. A greyish tone to give it some sort of gritty edge, bland directing lacking anything fancy that is never able to generate any kind of dramatic tension whatsoever. It's all tame. Not awful, just awfully tame.

This will be on the shelves of video stores for a month, and next times you will see a copy of Dead Man Down, it will be in 5 years, in the five-dollar movie bin at Wal-Mart, lost under a pile of similarly forgettable products.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
A Superb Vendetta Fare!
namashi_118 December 2013
Niels Arden Oplev's 'Dead Man Down' offers a solid punch. A Superb Vendetta Fare, that benefits from a Gripping Screenplay, Excellent Direction & Strong Performances.

'Dead Man Down' Synopsis: In New York City, a crime lord's right-hand man is seduced by a woman seeking retribution.

'Dead Man Down' is a tale very-well done. J.H. Wyman's Screenplay is gripping, offering interesting & grasping moments all through. Despite the excessive violence, this rather under-rated flick leaves a terrific impact. I was glued & engrossed throughout. Niels Arden Oplev's Direction is excellent. Cinematography, Editing & Art Design are good. Make-Up & Action-Sequences are flawless.

Performance-Wise: The Extremely Attractive Noomi Rapace delivers a stellar performance as a disturbed & vengeful soul. She expresses pain, anger & love all through her beautiful eyes & note-worthy dialogue delivery. Colin Farrell is equally superior. Dominic Cooper is highly competent. He shines in a strong supporting role. Terrence Howard shows a menacing side of his in here, while Isabelle Huppert brings depth to her character. F. Murray Abraham is sincere, as always.

On the whole, 'Dead Man Down' is a winner all the way.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Cool. Cold, Revenge Thriller
Frank J McCarry27 September 2013
This is a very cool story....It's cold..yes, but it's certainly not your average Hollywood action happening. In fact the foreign languages and actors in it are probably the reason it didn't do too well in the States....Americans like their action full on formulaic "Americana" ..... I highly recommend this for those who like a good 'revenge' thriller with some unexpected twists and turns....which this certainly has! Colin Farrell is a very underrated actor.....There really is no one else I could imagine playing this character....Definitely not Brad Pitt! So...look at this with an open mind and remember.....it has a heart....but a cold one!
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dish served cold, in this revenge thriller.
Bo Atdrinks7 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Film opens with a family scene but quickly moves into the action, with a gang-leader, played by Terence Howard, under attack from an unknown enemy. A campaign is being waged against him and spotting a clue he goes to confront a rival gang-leader. Violence ensues, but with no back-story, there is nobody to get emotionally attached to, as these gangsters shoot it out. Actors Colin Farrell and Dominic Cooper play members of Howard's gang, and after this long violent intro, we get credits as we follow Farrell home.

Outside of his gang activities, Colin Farrell's character seems to lead a fairly lonely life (think Leon), but he comes into contact with a neighbour across the way. She is played by Noomi Rapache and seems fragile and needy. Farrell by contrast seems colder and moody. Farrell played the moodiest guy in history as Alexander (the Great), and here too, we are uncertain of where his mood swings will lead, right from the first scene, onwards.

F. Murray Abraham has a few small scenes and Armand Assante does one short scene, however they, and Terence Howard, as well as the other gangsters, do not get a lot of character development. Quite right too, because all this gang stuff is really the background to the central story of the relationship between Farrell and Rapache.

The story is set in New York, not that you would know that from the location shots, this could have been filmed anywhere, however it did have some interesting bleak, if slightly unbelievable, location shooting.

Colin Farrell acted his part well; after his cold, unpredictable start, we gradually learnt more of his character, so perhaps did he. Dominic Cooper, playing a fellow gang member, gave a standout performance, with real depth, to a believable character. The best of all though was the power-house performance of Noomi Rapache. Utterly believable and real, real, depth. She is the real star of this film.

It has to be said that this film is a bit clichéd, derivative and predictable, and has a somewhat improbable and unlikely plot. Having said that, I was not expecting much when I went to see this film and so I was not let down by it. As a crime thriller, it is a good film. 7/10.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
Another Darkie
Jeremy Boyd7 January 2016
Sometimes I wonder if it may become necessary to walk with a flashlight when watching so many movies made in the last eight to ten years - all the scenes are always so dark, and this one is a masterpiece. Colin Farrell's character is dead and lack-lustre, and although he claims to come from Hungary, and Colin is from Ireland (I think), the American accent is difficult to hide. The story is your typical tale of revenge with the usual large dose of guns and shooting. The film moves along at a slow and unhurried pace, and there's a good chance for a nap after a long day at work. The legend of Arnold is in no danger here...at least in Schwarzenegger's films you can see what's going on, but here, as I said, you need some lighting of your own.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
The value this movie places on revenge opens the mind to rewarding realities.
Casey Weaver15 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, an 8! This film wastes no time grabbing your attention. If you don't enjoy action packed movies with a main character (Colin Farrell) who kills the bad guys and manages to look sexy doing it, this film may not be for you. I enjoy a film that makes your mind wrestle a difficult subject. That topic in this film is revenge. Victor (Farrell) spends all his time and effort in seeking revenge just to realize the lack of fulfillment revenge has. Victor did end up killing his foes in the last minutes of the movie, but he did so just to save Beatrice (Noomi Rapace). Her story made Victor realize that revenge is not only not the answer, but following through with it could lead to more pain. Coincidentally, his story taught Beatrice revenge is not going to satisfy the pain in her life either. Revenge is emotion driven, and occasionally it takes someone on the outside looking in to realize that emotion is rooted in a messed up mindset that just causes more pain. Movies are good when they teach a lesson and open minds. Dead Man Down was worth the watch.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews