Netflix film review: Dead Man Down
Chris Bryant | On 13, Apr 2014Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard
Watch Dead Man Down online: Netflix UK
Let’s assume that Dead Man Down doesn’t take place in the real world. In the real world, a Hungarian mob enforcer plotting against a gang boss is not accidentally caught on film by a bored neighbour.
So, a different world. A world in which Victor (Colin Farrell) is given Carpe Diem-style life advice from a fellow mob enforcer (a perpetually uninteresting Dominic Cooper). In which trained assassins have their sniper rifles explained to them, piece by piece, by a gun runner, as part of an expositional melee that runs the entire length of the film. A world so clichéd and so convenient that the bad guys slip in the shower before Farrell’s undercover avenger has a chance to off them.
Aside from the chronically bad writing, Dead Man Down somehow manages to deliver very little else. As an action piece, it falls far short of the mark. Even the final set piece can’t quite compensate for the previous hundred minutes, although it’s a step in the right direction. Niels Arden Oplev’s film struggles to escape its own dullness. A few half-baked ideas of a complicated plot only serves to make the film more disheartening, especially given the talented cast.
Noomi Rapace manages to bring some life to her character, the neighbouring Beatrice, but constantly being sad and only having strength when it comes to making Farrell follow her orders leaves her uneven – and somewhat dislikable. Terrence Howard plays the slick Mr. Big, Alphonse, well, but feels replaceable. Farrell, meanwhile, is the strong, silent, troubled (but inexplicably kind and well-equipped) type who has adorned the front cover of any revenge flick in the last decade. He does a good job of staring angrily into the distance but never gives the impression he could bring any more to the table – in fairness, though, it’s a pretty rubbish table.
The generous funding from WWE studios ensures that (aside from a few cameos for their usual roster) the film gets big guns, big explosions and big names but little else really shines. Some may appreciate the Hungarian/Albanian mob warfare, but it’s difficult to find a redeeming feature in what is yet another standard revenge thriller. Dead Man Down takes place in a different world. Watching it in the real one will only bring disappointment.