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Dead On – A review of Dead Man Down
Summary: When Colin Farrell has a decent script to work with, he’s a compelling actor with a riveting performance.
Colin Farrell is a solid actor. Even when the films he appears in are not necessarily the most entertaining, he always turns in a virtuoso performance. He’s not the most entertaining action star, but you don’t have to cringe when he’s on screen, unlike more than a few action heroes in recent years.
Which is why Dead Man Down is actually a worthy action film to sink your teeth into. Farrell’s performance moves the entire concept up a notch.
He plays a Hungarian family man named Victor whose wife and child were killed by a criminal mastermind named Alphonse (Terence Howard). Farrell vows revenge on him and his gang.
He has come up with an elaborate plan that involves infiltrating the cartel. He sets up members and affiliates along the way. He even targets the Albanian thugs who were supposed to kill him, but botched the assignment.
Noomi Rapace plays Beatrice, a beautician with a plan of her own which complicates matters. She has a dark secret and threatens to expose it unless Victor kills the man who damaged her face in a drunk driving collision.
What elevates this story is the top notch caliber acting. Farrell, Rapace and Howard all turn in award worthy performances. Without them, this would be just another run of the mill film noir wannabe.
At times, though, the script does falter. Victor’s resolve to avenge his family never waivers, but at times, we can’t quite buy his conviction to see the event through to its logical conclusion. Likewise, Beatrice’s conviction waivers with her interactions with Victor.
Another element that complicates the tale is Victor’s friend, Darcy (Dominic Cooper) who plays amateur detective in an effort to see who is setting up Alphonse. There’s a chase sequence that ends well for all, but does so in an almost implausible and contrived way.
Beatrice’s meddling creates an unexpected element to the plot and serves to elevate the obvious sexual tension between the characters. They are both damaged goods and, in typical Hollywood fashion, they are lost until they choose to find one another.
The film is directed by Niels Arden Opley, the Danish director who previously helmed the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Yet again, he delves into the minds of troubled souls and leads them to the light. I give Dead Man Down 4 out of 5 stars.