Blu-ray Review: Dead Man Down

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Colin Farrell is one of those great actors who just can’t seem to catch a break in terms of a breakout role that makes him a box-office draw. No matter how many great films he does, they all seem to fly under the radar or get overshadowed by his big budget films that miss the mark. Dead Man Down is a film that is elevated to another level by having both Farrell on board as a strong leading man and Noomi Rapace sharing the screen alongside him.

What makes Dead Man Down worth watching is how well the characters of Victor (Farrell) and Beatrice (Rapace) are written, and how beautifully they’re brought to life by those embodying them. The script itself is a fairly by the book story about revenge; however, the way the relationship between Victor and Beatrice grows is what helps give this film its own voice.

This is a story about two people set on taking revenge on those who destroyed their lives. Victor is a capable killer who’s infiltrated the gang of a ruthless crime lord named Alphonse (Terrance Howard) in hopes of making the kingpin pay for his past crimes. Beatrice, on the other hand, is a woman who had her entire life turned upside down when she was hit by a drunk driver and needed multiple reconstructive surgeries to make her even somewhat recognizable once again. The emotional scares, however, weren’t nearly as easy to fix, and with the help of Victor, she hopes to make the man who hit her suffer as much as she has.

The film has a run time of two hours and it’s paced quite nicely. While some may find it slow, with the action coming in spurts until the final act, it’s the growing bond between Victor and Beatrice that the story is really about, and their burning desire deep down to be happy once again – even if all they can see at the moment is darkness. They have some wonderfully awkward conversations together, which show how recluse they’ve been since their individual life altering incidents. Their interactions all seem natural, which goes a long way in selling them to the audience as characters we want to see happy.

The pacing and cooler stylistic approach is thanks to the vision of director Niels Arden Oplev, who also directed Rapace in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That was another character-centric film with sporadic action sequences throughout, though Oplev definitely gets to play in the action genre sandbox a lot more this time around. The good thing is that the action never really feels forced, as it flows naturally into the story and helps keep things moving forward nicely.

If there was one scene I really disliked, it was near the start when Beatrice is trying to convince Victor that he needs to kill this man for her. The two are driving together and Victor is against helping her, insisting that killing someone isn’t that easy, and Beatrice angrily grabs the wheel of Victor’s truck and yanks on it, causing it to spin out into the intersection before coming to a stop. Granted, she’s angry and I suppose it may be meant to show she doesn’t care if she lives or dies; however, it’s rather extreme and seems out of place for someone whose life was destroyed because of a car accident to put others at risk for the same fate. It was just something that jumped out at me instantly, and I’m curious why nobody really brought it up during the filmmaking process.

Dead Man Down
is an average revenge flick with some above average characters behind it. While lesser actors may not have brought as much to the table, Farrell and Rapace have the perfect chemistry for these two troubled souls, and that spark – while not overly romanticized – helps carry the film a long way.

The Blu-ray transfer of the film looks great, with crisp, sharp images throughout and mood setting tones that really boost the atmosphere. The sound mixes also come through nicely, with strong dialogue and soundtrack mixes as well.

Revenge and Redemption – This featurette comes in at under 12 minutes in length and sees the cast and crew talking about the film, the chemistry with Oplev and such. It’s a quick piece that fans of the film may enjoy.

Revenge Technique – This piece is under seven minutes in length and sees the look of the film, various settings as well as cinematography.

Staging the Action – This featurette is under six minutes in length and sees the cast and crew talk about filming the various action scenes within the film.

IM Global and WWE Studios Present Dead Man Down. Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev. Written by: J.H. Wyman. Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard. Running time: 120 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: July 9, 2013.

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