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03-09-2013, 07:31 PM
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Dead Man Down (2013), directed by Niels Arden Oplev: Two damaged individuals, who each seek revenge but from different people, form an uneasy alliance in this noir-ish suspense movie. Victor (Colin Farreel), a gang member in a tough crime syndicate, and Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a potential love interest who maybe knows too much about Victor's secrets, are not a perfect match by any means, but as the film progresses each becomes increasingly indispensable to the other. After the rigors and high expectations that come with directing an international best seller such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Oplev shows more flair in this movie and does a decent job directing Dead Man Down's unconvincing script. Though he is stuck with one of those B-movie plots that seem too contrived to be believed and too cumbersome to be engaging, he creates a passably suspenseful film despite the shortcomings of the material. There are occasional hints here and there of the potential that the movie could have had, especially when it focuses on Victor and Beatrice's growing relationship. But then the plot goes bump at just the wrong times. Among the actors, Rapace fares well but Farrell has to rely on his eyes to communicate his feelings because the script doesn't provide him the necessary good dialog with which to create a character. A talented cast that includes Dominic Cooper, Terence Howard, Isabelle Huppert, Armand Assante, and F. Murray Abraham collectively give it a good college try, but most of them have little to do, as well. If this were a university essay, I'd probably give it a "D." It's not an absolute disaster thanks to Oplev's sporadically stylish direction, but it just isn't a very good movie.

The next day: I've already revised the above review once, and I'm not going to do it again. But it nags at me. The movie has a little something, which I wasn't able to express yesterday. There is indeed a substantial amount wrong with the movie, but it gets a lot of little things right. The relationship has a degree of poignancy that is unexpected, and every now and then there are glimmers of interesting ideas about the nature of revenge. Nothing to equal Park Chan-Wook's best work on vengeance, but interesting glimmers nonetheless. Usually when a movie gets most of the big things wrong, the little touches don't amount to much. I'm not absolutely sure, but this movie might be an exception to that general rule. Or maybe Rapace, Farrell, Cooper, et al, just managed with their skill as actors to create the illusion of more depth in their characters than the script deserved. Either way, it's a movie that I wish had gotten one more decent revision that played down conventional plot devices and played up character development and theme. Think I'll move that grade up to a "C."

Last edited by kihei: 03-11-2013 at 06:23 AM.
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