Dead Man Down

While horribly violent, Dead Man Down is a semi-interesting film about tormented souls getting even with thugs who deserve to die by their own rule book.

Rating: Though it can be seen on any screen, it is rated “R” and it definitely is not a film that young teenagers should get anywhere near.

Dead Man DownDead Man Down is a dark, brooding film that has been largely rejected by the general public. It is a movie filled with villains, and even the few good guys pursue vengeance in a bloodthirsty fashion.

As convoluted as it is, the wonderful Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace keep Dead Man Down from drowning under its own weight. Both are superior actors, and here they play two damaged humans whose only goal in life is to seek vengeance for those responsible for their physical and psychological wounds.

Mr. Farrell plays Victor, a Hungarian immigrant who is a hit man for a New York mob organization run by Terrence Howard. Hiding his true identity, he seeks to brutally kill the gangsters who cruelly disposed of his wife and young daughter several years earlier.

Living alone in a high-rise apartment, he connects with a young lady played by Ms. Rapace, who spends time staring aimlessly on her apartment balcony as she chain smokes. Known as Beatrice, she lives with her mother (Isabelle Huppert) as she tries to recover from horrible facial scars resulting from being struck by a drunk driver. Finding herself both emotionally and physically isolated, she soon joins Farrell for one of the most psychologically depressing dates to be seen recently on the big screen.

While I won’t give the details away, Beatrice knows more about Victor’s past than he could possibly suspect, and they become deadly companions in their quest to eliminate old enemies. It’s almost as if you would not find it unusual if a wife casually asked her husband, “Honey, could you take out the trash and kill the garbage man, if you don’t mind.”;

On the other hand, I must say that Mr. Farrell and Ms. Rapace make the most of their characters. Few actors working today have the range of Mr. Farrell. While I have referred to this in other reviews, think of his emotionally haunted killer in In Bruges (2008); the friend who saves Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart (2009); his twisted Russian prisoner with a conscience in The Way Back (2010) and his role as the hysterically demented son of Kevin Spacey in the very funny Horrible Bosses (2011). Even when he is in films like Total Recall (2012) and Dead Man Down, he’s still worth the price of admission.

Ms. Rapace is cut out of the same mold. As good as Rooney Mara was in the English version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011), she could not equal Ms. Rapace’s role as Lisbeth Salander in the initial Swedish film (2009). In addition, she joined Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law in making a hit out of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and dominated in Ridley Scott’s prequel to Alien (1979), this time called Prometheus (2012). She is simply superb playing a hard-nosed woman with an attitude.

Dead Man Down also salvages some pride due to the work of Director Niels Arden Oplev. He was also the gentlemen who brought us the three foreign versions of the above-referred to Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films, and he knows how to deal with tortured souls.

Though the gigantic gunfight that ends the film is nearly as ridiculous as the last 30 minutes of Tarentino’s Django Unchained, you still are left wishing that Mr. Farrell and Ms. Rapace find a way to survive. Though severely damaged by the profound unfairness of life, you can’t help but hope that they find a way to hold hands and walk off into the sunset.