Dead Man Down (2013)

Expected there to be more rapes with this one.

Two distraught and damaged people (Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace) who happen to live-across from one another, both feel the need for revenge. Her revenge is solely based on the man who got into a car accident with her and disfigured her face, whereas his revenge is solely based on the man who killed his wife and daughter. That man (Terrence Howard) just so happens to be the drug kingpin that Farrell’s character is working for, which automatically shows you that shit’s about to get whack. Well, sort of.

This was a very, very strange movie as it was nothing that I expected it to be from the trailer, and I’m still stuck racking my brain on what the hell it was all about. The actually, awesome trailer that came out awhile back provided us with a great look at a movie that could be a bunch of slam-bang, action fun that was all about chewing bullets, and spitting out explosives. That’s the type of movie I was promised and that’s the type of movie I only dreamed of seeing. However, that is not at all what I got and being that this is WWE Studios film; I should have only known.

The whole discussion of this movie comes down to one question: is it bad? For the answer to that, I would have to reply by saying yes and no. See, this isn’t one of those movies you can really ever take seriously, despite it being one of those flicks where they take the plot, it’s characters, and their motivations that way. You basically have to assume that the movie has an I.Q level that’s lower than yours, and just go with the flow of things. But even that’s where a problem with this film lies; it just isn’t that fun to begin with.

Soon to be appearing on the director's cut of Zero Dark Thirty.
Soon to be appearing on the director’s cut of Zero Dark Thirty.

Director Niels Arden Oplev is making his English-language debut after making the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and shows that he has interest in keeping a story moving, with a nice deal of tension and details, but this movie is nowhere near that. He seems like he gets the story and where it’s going, but he never allows for it to have fun with itself or come alive in anyway. It’s sort of like the guy is going through the motions, hoping that people will become interested in what he finds interesting, but it never soils that way. Instead, we’re just left with a guy being all happy wappy about a bunch of material that he’s finally getting the chance to direct without subtitles, but to us, the viewer, that’s nothing special we need to watch.

Maybe I’ve been a bit spoiled these past couple of weeks with dumb, brainless exercises in fun that never seem to end, but when I go to a movie like this that promises guns, drugs, crooks, and dames, within the first 5-10 minutes, I expect to see a lot of that continue on throughout. That’s not what happens at all. The movie starts off with an exciting action-sequence that lasts about 10 minutes and has you all excited, wondering if this is going to be like everything you had hoped for. Then, people start talking, people start flirting, and worst of all, people start picking-up those dreaded cell phones. Yes, there is so much cell phone-usage here that I literally thought that the big surprise at the end was going to be that either Terrence Howard, Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, or somebody had brain cancer. Then again, a twist like that wouldn’t seem so out-of-place in a crazy movie like this.

Basically, the whole movie is lead-up to the last 5-10 minutes where we get another action-sequence that’s fun and exciting, but in-between the beginning and the end; there’s not much else. Just a bunch of people talking on cell phones (like I alluded to earlier), moping around, poppin’ b’s over killing people, talking about how sad they are, what they want to do next, and some of the most awkward first dates I have ever witnessed in my life. And trust me, that is saying something. My problem with this movie is that it takes itself too seriously and never loosens up the gears to let go and be free, wild, and fun like it just could have been. Would have made the movie a whole lot more entertaining, rather than dragging on and on throughout the hour-and-50-minute time-limit.

Thankfully though, underneath it all, we got some peeps holding the fort down and that comes in the form of Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. Farrell is good as the brooding, but sad guy that wants to gain revenge on the guy who killed his familia. He plays the silent, stern type very well to where you see that the guy is as reserved as he is, for a reason and nothing more. I didn’t mind Farrell playing this character considering I believed him when he was upset, confused, or planning to kick somebody’s ass because he could pull it all off with a look in his eyes. The guy is THAT talented of an actor.

Noomi Rapace is also quite good as the girl that takes a liking to him, mainly because she shows that vulnerability that we all know and love her for. Rapace has a great look to her where she isn’t hot, but she isn’t gorgeous either. She’s right in the middle and feels like a real gal that’s damaged, depressed, and lonely in a world that doesn’t seem to give any two shits about her. Rapace does what she can with a role like this, and it’s more than enough than I expected from her so kudos to that chick. Let’s just hope she doesn’t go back to her ass-kicking ways.

Don't worry honey, no rapes here.
Don’t worry honey, no rapes here.

What I liked the most about this movie is these two, and the chemistry they had between one another. Granted, this movie is less about their relationship and more about how they get off on killing people (or not), but whenever they are together and actually have to create some sort of magic between themselves; it actually works. Heck, some of this movie felt like it could have just been it’s own film, entirely, scrapped-off all of the action shit, and just left it with the drama of two, damaged people who end-up finding each other and falling in love. That would have been way, way better than sitting through all of these guns, weapons, and exposition, but at least we still got to see them together and see what they could do, with what limited-resources they have. I’m telling ya, if this was told a straight-up drama, Sundance would be falling to pieces by now.

Terrence Howard plays the powerful kingpin that yells, screams, hoots, hollers, and intimidates any man that walks his way, and is fine with that, but does get a little goofy by the end. Once he starts screaming, “Where the fuck ya’ll at”, then I started to lose a bit of my cool and needed a bit of a break from this black man screaming, for no reason. Dominic Cooper is also here as Farrell’s only, sympathetic drug-buddy, that just so happens to be on Howard’s side as well. Cooper is good and gives us something to hold onto with this character, but even he feels like he’s stretching for a bit more than he can pull-off. And sadly, Isabelle Huppert and F. Murray Abraham show up here, do nothing, seem out-of-place, and disappoint me to the high heavens. Poor people.

Consensus: Even if it does promise a bunch of crazy, action-y fun, Dead Man Down is more based on being a thriller that’s as complex as a monkey in a bikini. You see it for what it is, don’t think of anything more, and that’s about it. Okay, pretty strange comparison, but still. Just expect nothing, and you may just get that in-return. Maybe.

5 / 10 = Rental!!



  1. I dunno, I wasn’t really expecting an all out shoot-em-up at all. The movie was honestly pretty much precisely what I expected of it going in, and I enjoyed it for what it was. Nothing great, but nothing bad by any means at all, either.

    • I just didn’t know what was going on and even though some aspects worked, others didn’t and they really showed. Oh well, maybe it was just me.

  2. I can’t believe they would waste someone like Isabelle Huppert. How can you do that? She had a small role in Amour yet Haneke at least gave her something to do. Boo to WWE films. I hope it flops like the XFL!

  3. I was such a huge fan of the original Girl with Dragon Tattoo and I liked that both actor and director reunited in an English Language flick. I’m sad to read the movie is only so so. If the drama between the two leads is as good as you wrote about I will still check it out. Great review.

  4. Cool review! I haven’t seen this yet, was going to wait for it on cheap Blu-ray sales or something. I love Noomi Rapace and so far she’s been awesome in almost everything I’ve seen her in. However, something in the trailer didn’t really do it for me.
    Just a side note, brain cancer plot turnpoint are reserved for Korean dramas 😉

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