Saturday, August 9, 2014

Film Review: Dead Man Down (2013)

Dead Man Down (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a surprisingly original and stylish film."

Ruthless criminal kingpin Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard) has been tormented by a mysterious man who kills off Alphonse's crew and plays cruel psychological games with him.

Dead Man Down follows Victor (Colin Farrell), who is part of Hoyt's criminal family and who is also responsible for Hoyt's prolonged psychological torture. You see, Victor has infiltrated Hoyt's crew with hidden intentions -- he's been planning his vengeance for a tragic event that Hoyt was responsible for years ago. In the meantime, Victor meets Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), who has been damaged and plans to use Victor for her own vengeance. The story is surprisingly engaging and original until the climax. Although the climax offers some much appreciated action, it also becomes a little too convenient. The ending was overall a disappointment compared to the rest of the film.

First and foremost, I'd like to say I really love the trailer for Dead Man Down -- even more so after watching the film. From the trailer, you can expect a cliché yet stylish film; instead, you get a surprisingly original and stylish film. In other words: I thoroughly enjoyed this neo-noir crime thriller. There are a few moments where the pacing halts then speed up, then halts, and so on, but it generally kept me engaged until the very end.

Even the subplot between Victor and Beatrice was engaging. Sure, Beatrice isn't the most developed or rational character, but it does offer some variety and originality to the film. However, if I could choose, I'd much rather they scrapped it all together. Like I said, it's decent, but it doesn't really offer anything critical to the story -- in fact, it serves as a contrivance for the climax. On the point of the climax, aside from the music, is one thrilling and very well-executed set piece.

The acting is great. Colin Farrell offers a charismatic and even subtle performance. Noomi Rapace also does very well, and looks amazing doing so. (for the sake of this critical review, she doesn't get any benefit from the latter. Really. I promise.) Terrence Howard is also great, but he doesn't have a lot of screen time. The music is hit-or-miss; sometimes it compliments the film, sometimes it doesn't fit at all. On the other hand, the film looks beautiful; I loved the elegant and meticulous use of vibrant lighting. Director Niels Arden Oplev pulls great performances from his cast and executes a mostly engaging and entertaining thriller.

Overall, Dead Man Down is a very good crime thriller. The story is interesting and entertaining, it'd oozing from its slick and attractive style, and there is some great acting. The subplot, although with decent execution, doesn't offer much to the film, though, and the ending partly fumbles an otherwise great setup.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief sex.

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