Dead Man Down
In the world of cinema, I often like to associate the crime genre (mostly gangster) as a part of the movement known as film noir. For those that don’t know what that is, the idea behind noirs were crime films that used similar motifs from antiheroes to the mysterious but adventurous woman to the provocative banter, but mostly for having dark, shadow cast photography giving the viewer a more uneasy feeling. Film noirs are usually marked as film from between the 1940’s to the early 1960’s. Films today that try to evoke that similar style are often known as neo noirs.
Now neo noirs take a lot of the same ideas from the past and give it a modern spin. The best recent neo-noir films I recommend are Drive and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Drive because it combined the noir like photography with an 1980’s feel while still having a dangerous tone and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for having one of the best anti, female hero in cinema. This is my opinion based on the American version. I am sad to say I haven’t seen the Swedish version which I’ve hear is better. It certainly did well enough for its star Noomi Rapace to move into American cinema. She returns to the neo noir genre in Dead Man Down.
In the middle of an abandoned building in New York lies a gang run by the kingpin Alphonse Hoyt (played by Terrence Howard). In the mist of the bloody pulps is a member named Victor (played by Colin Farrell). He has spent two years infiltrating a spot in the organization to plan his revenge, based on how Alphonse had killed the man’s wife and daughter. In his spare time, Victor keeps an eye on his weapons and dreams about pulling the trigger to fulfill his desire. Unknown to him, a young woman has been observing his actions.
This person that’s been watching him for her apartment is actually a Frenchwomen named Beatrice (played by Noomi Rapace) who lives with her mother. She’s mocked by children for having a disfigured face, which was caused by a drunk driver who never faced jail time. She eventually gets in contact with Victor and the two hit it off as friends. Their first date ends with her revealing that she had seen him murder another man. All she wants if for him to kill the man who was responsible for costing her a social life.
Here’s what I’ll admit; there is a lot of great ideas coming from Dead Man Down. You have two characters that want revenge for their past. You have some good backstories written in and an actress (Noomi Rapace) who is actually phenomenal is this kind of role. I promise that Rapace will have a long career in Hollywood. As hard as it tries, Dead Man Down fails to generate much I remembered.
I think that the biggest problem is the casting of the hero and the villain. I’ve seen Colin Farrell in good work, but he’s just dull. He’s the antihero killer that’s been done already and it brought down even further with a lack of a personality. Terrance Howard is another good actor caught in bad writing. He’s the stock rich crime lord who is all evil and only wants power. Combine these characters, and you find a story that no one cares about. I feel bad about it because I love women who fight back against men who abuse them. But if this kind of story was going to be told, it needed a much meatier plot.
I’ll give it two walls of photos out of five. Maybe if this was handed to someone like David Fincher, then Dead Man Down could have been a fascinating look at the ideas of revenge. The misguided story causes the movie to stand out like a real dead man down; shocking, but quickly forgettable.