¨We're not meant to be alone. You know what she said to me? She said that even the most damaged heart can be mended. Even the most damaged heart.¨
Dead Man Down isn`t your typical revenge film; despite using a common plot device, the way the story is told makes it stand out from other familiar revenge plots. This is Niels Arden Oplev`s first english language film, but it is nothing compared to his wonderful Swedish film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It might not be a fair comparison because that film was adapted from a great Swedish novel so the story was much more engaging than this one. In Dead Man Down, Oplev reunites with Noomi Rapace who gives another solid performance here despite not having such a powerful character. The film slowly builds up until the climatic final 20 minutes combining action with a decent -albeit strange- love story. Dead Man Down could`ve been so much more entertaining, but the pressure from Hollywood producers got to Oplev who had to rush the shooting and the editing. The major problem this film has is really the editing considering there are a lot of pacing issues going on. It takes too much time to build up and certain scenes felt out of place. I still think that the chemistry between Farrell and Rapace as two tortured souls drawn to each other is what makes this movie more bearable. The screenplay was written by J.H. Wyman (from the Fringe TV series and The Mexican). There were several twists here that caught me by surprise, and others which didn`t work too well. The trailer for Dead Man Down made us think we were going to get an action thriller, but in reality it is more of a neo-noir film mixing romance with action. This isn`t a bad movie, I really liked the final 20 minutes, but I felt several things were forced at times which didn`t help the overall pacing of the movie. The less you know about this film going into it, the better.
Plot: Victor (Colin Farrell) is working for a kingpin named Alphonse (Terrence Howard) in New York City. Alphonse has been receiving threats and strange messages so Victor and the rest of the crew have been on the lookout. One of their own appears dead with another message for the kingpin. Surprisingly, Victor is the one responsible for these threats. His family was murdered a couple of years ago when they arrived from Hungary by Alphonse's men. After leaving him for dead, Victor quietly climbed up the ranks and has become Alphonse's right hand man. None of these men actually know anything about his past as he has changed his identity but he is waiting for the perfect moment to have his revenge. In the midst of his revenge plan he meets a troubled neighbor, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), who he begins going out with. At first they each have a hidden agenda, but they will realize that they may have more things in common than they thought they had.
I think this film could have had much more potential if Oplev had worked with his European crew, but things are more difficult in Hollywood and the producers usually have the last say (as they did with the trailer which completely marketed this film for a different target audience). Farrell and Rapace had great chemistry together and this isn't your usual romantic action flick. The romance here slowly builds in a rather realistic fashion as they both find a connection through their hurtful and resentful pasts. The action scenes are nothing out of the ordinary, but Farrell has an onscreen persona as an action star. Dominic Cooper has a supporting role and is probably the stand out in that category since so much is centered on Farrell, Rapace, and Howard. Dead Man Down had a decent story somewhere down the line, but the messy editing and weak pacing hurt this movie and makes it feel too fragmented.