When ruthless mobster Alphonse (Howard) receives a series of cryptic threats from a mysterious stalker, he tasks his trusted right-hand man, Victor (Farrell), with finding the person responsible. Victor, meanwhile, is approached by Beatrice (Rapace), a scarred former beautician who blackmails him into killing someone for her…
In prospect, Dead Man Down was worth getting excited about. After all, it marks the English-language debut of Niels Arden Oplev, the Danish filmmaker who achieved international acclaim with his original version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The reality, though, is surprisingly disappointing, as Oplev’s revenge drama feels like two different films struggling against one another. Uneven and tonally inconsistent, the brooding European thriller that you might be expecting continually morphs into a clunky actioner, while the explosive finale plays like an out-of-place note from a studio suit demanding more Hollywood bang.
Oplev instils an appropriately gloomy atmosphere, but the twisty plot is more messy than murky. Reuniting with Noomi Rapace, the Danish helmer at least gives the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo something to do, as Beatrice is a chewier role than her previous English-language ventures (see Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and Prometheus). But while both Rapace and the perennially underrated Colin Farrell consistently elevate Dead Man Down with their wounded romance, they can’t save it completely.
A surprisingly disappointing revenge drama, Dead Man Down feels like two different films struggling against each other. One a brooding Euro thriller, the other a clunky Hollywood actioner. Neither really works.