Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Dead Man Down

Tarantino meets Hitchcock in Niels Arden Oplev’s smartly cast if uninspired American debut.

March 8, 2013

-By Michael Rechtshaffen


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1372868-Dead_Man_Down_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

For his American film debut, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev and his original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace have relocated to the mean streets of New York for a vengeance-driven, neo-noir crime thriller. More of a character-etched mood piece than a tautly calibrated caper, Dead Man Down benefits from potent visuals and a compelling international cast that also includes lead Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and Isabelle Huppert.

Although the insular script by J.H. Wyman ( The Mexican) occasionally can be hard to follow, Oplev/Rapace’s rabid fan base should take the bait nevertheless, providing this FilmDistrict release with a respectable take.

Farrell, in a quiet, mournful performance that relies on minimal dialogue, is Victor, an enforcer who has been working his way up the ranks of Howard’s crime empire while concurrently plotting revenge against the ruthless kingpin for the death of his wife and young daughter years earlier.

Turns out some of his clandestine activities have been observed by the equally enigmatic Beatrice (Rapace), a neighbor living in the apartment across from his, with her own personal cause for retribution. Her face deeply scarred after being hit by a drunken driver, Beatrice makes Victor an offer that’s very hard for him to refuse.

It’s easy to see why Oplev was attracted to this violence-tinged story of two damaged souls set against a classic New York gangland backdrop. He effectively mines plenty of atmosphere from the grimy Lower East Side terrain while paying tribute to various thematic influences ranging from Rear Window to True Romance. But Wyman’s script and the measured pace don’t lend themselves to the necessary escalating tension that would have resulted in a more rewarding climax.

That crack cast still keeps things involving, especially Rapace’s emotionally and physically disfigured Beatrice—who, ironically, worked as a cosmetician before her accident. Even more satisfying than her increasingly tender scenes with Farrell are her diverting ones with Huppert, who plays her protective mother (!) with a playful joie de vivre.

Behind the scenes, cinematographer Paul Cameron ( Collateral, Man on Fire) captures the requisite visual grit, while composer Jacob Groth, who scored The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels, creates an evocative, brooding soundscape.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Dead Man Down

Tarantino meets Hitchcock in Niels Arden Oplev’s smartly cast if uninspired American debut.

March 8, 2013

-By Michael Rechtshaffen


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1372868-Dead_Man_Down_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

For his American film debut, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev and his original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace have relocated to the mean streets of New York for a vengeance-driven, neo-noir crime thriller. More of a character-etched mood piece than a tautly calibrated caper, Dead Man Down benefits from potent visuals and a compelling international cast that also includes lead Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and Isabelle Huppert.

Although the insular script by J.H. Wyman (The Mexican) occasionally can be hard to follow, Oplev/Rapace’s rabid fan base should take the bait nevertheless, providing this FilmDistrict release with a respectable take.

Farrell, in a quiet, mournful performance that relies on minimal dialogue, is Victor, an enforcer who has been working his way up the ranks of Howard’s crime empire while concurrently plotting revenge against the ruthless kingpin for the death of his wife and young daughter years earlier.

Turns out some of his clandestine activities have been observed by the equally enigmatic Beatrice (Rapace), a neighbor living in the apartment across from his, with her own personal cause for retribution. Her face deeply scarred after being hit by a drunken driver, Beatrice makes Victor an offer that’s very hard for him to refuse.

It’s easy to see why Oplev was attracted to this violence-tinged story of two damaged souls set against a classic New York gangland backdrop. He effectively mines plenty of atmosphere from the grimy Lower East Side terrain while paying tribute to various thematic influences ranging from Rear Window to True Romance. But Wyman’s script and the measured pace don’t lend themselves to the necessary escalating tension that would have resulted in a more rewarding climax.

That crack cast still keeps things involving, especially Rapace’s emotionally and physically disfigured Beatrice—who, ironically, worked as a cosmetician before her accident. Even more satisfying than her increasingly tender scenes with Farrell are her diverting ones with Huppert, who plays her protective mother (!) with a playful joie de vivre.

Behind the scenes, cinematographer Paul Cameron (Collateral, Man on Fire) captures the requisite visual grit, while composer Jacob Groth, who scored The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels, creates an evocative, brooding soundscape.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Film Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Latest rollicking entry in the sturdy series (installments one and two together hit a billion dollars in grosses) again has natural and historic wonders come alive at night to wreak havoc. But it’s largely kids’ stuff. More »

The Interview
Film Review: The Interview

If you’re curious, the movie that has North Korea so upset is genuinely amusing, if flawed in the length department. More »

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here