A straight up no-nonsense revenge-fueled action flick, Dead Man Down is a very entertaining movie with lots of great action and a strong story.
Dead Man Down is the first American film made by Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), and he handles the material very well. He brings the action right out of the gate and helps fill in the plot along the way while never letting the film get bogged down. This has been marketed as a Neo-Noir Thriller, and while the storyline is capable, it doesn’t rise to that level. This film is much more Commando than LA Confidential. A straight up action flick where the storyline accents the action and not the other way around.
The storyline is pretty simple. Victor (Colin Farrell) has infiltrated a criminal group led by Alphonse (Terrence Howard) who inadvertently killed Victor’s daughter. Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) discovers his secret and blackmails Victor to perform some revenge for her as well, taking out the drunk driver who only got a light slap on the wrist after disfiguring her face in a gruesome accident.
The acting here is all very good. After In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths (I have not seen the Total Recall remake, but perhaps it’s better that I haven’t), it is clear that Colin Farrell is an excellent action star. Noomi Rapace continues her introduction to American audiences, and I really liked her here as damaged woman who feels her life was taken from her. Also good here is Terrence Howard, and it is nice to see him in, well, anything lately. Always a top notch actor, he is very capable as the villain here.
As for the storyline, I think a distinction needs to be made here. had this actually tried to be a Neo-Noir thriller, then the plot does not rise to the task at all. But that is simply the marketing. This film does not try to be anything other than a badass action movie…and for an action movie the plot is more than adequate.
The true star of the movie though is the action. Oplev does a great job here directing the action. The film reminds me a lot of last year’s Jack Reacher as just a badass action movie that doesn’t have you pulling your hair out when it slows down to tell the story. The shootout scenes here are all excellently shot and have several “holy shit” moments where you will not want to blink.
Conclusion [9.0 out of 10.0]
Don’t get confused by many of the poor reviews. A lot of critics were disappointed Oplev didn’t do another thriller after The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and the marketing led them to believe it was supposed to be. However This is an action movie for people that love action movies. If you just want a competent story to give you multiple shoot out action set pieces, then this film will serve you very well.