Review: Dead Man Down
The World Wrestling Entertainment have been desperately trying to find success in the world of film for a very long time now. It seems that no matter what the world’s number one wrestling company has done outside of the squared circle, failure has never been to far behind , but that hasn’t prevented them from trying. There latest attempt is Dead Man Down, another movie that they’re helping bring to the big screen. Can Vince and company finally bring a movie worth watching to the masses? The fire power in front and behind the camera this time around suggest that there’s reason for optimism.
One of the important players in Dead Man Down goes by the name of Alphonse (Terrence Howard), a law breaking money-maker who’s all about business in every sense of the word. At this point and time in his career, he knows that someone is stalking him. He doesn’t know who’s behind it nor does he know his stalker’s motives, but he’s determined to find him and make him pay for his transgressions.
Alphonse also has a legion of dangerous men under his employment, and they’ll do virtually anything he asks of them when the time comes to make a deal or hand out justice. One of the men under the employment of Alphonse is Victor (Colin Farrell), a man who as violent with his hands as he is with a gun. He’s only been associated with the group for around nine months, but he’s made himself comfortable inside the inner circle controlled by the savage criminal with the reputation of being unforgiving.
Outside of his occupation in the criminal underworld, Victor is a man who life seems to avoid whenever it gets the opportunity. There isn’t much for him to do when he’s not putting holes into someone’s chest and he stays to himself more often than not. As that may be the case now, things are about to get interesting when he’s approached by the neighbor in the building across the way that’s had an eye on him for some time now. Her name is Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), and she lives with her mother in what can also be described as a quiet existence.
Both Victor and Beatrice are strangers to one another, but once they meet, there’s somewhat of an awkward attraction between the two. Because of this attraction, the two get together for a date. A typical date might be good for any other movie, but for a movie entitled Dead Man Down, that’s just not going to cut it. Here is where the loner known as Victor is introduced to Beatrice’s true motive. She not in the mood for fooling around or anything of the sort. She’s here to get down to business in another way that’s even more compromising.
Beatrice offers a job to Victor that he apparently can’t turn down. Not because it’s an offer that’s too good to refuse; it’s because he might end up behind bars if he doesn’t accept it. The lonely damsel in distress is asking Victor to kill someone for her with the hopes of getting some payback. If he doesn’t do as she wants, she’ll send the police a video of him killing someone in his apartment. In his mind, this leaves him with very few options and he decides to grant her wish to knock off a man who’s ruined her life.
Unable to come up with anything to avoid this scenario, the quiet man has to agree and find a way to fit her desire in with his own. He’s also on a quest for revenge, but his target has already been standing right in front of him. He wants to do away with Alphonse, his criminal minded head honcho of the crew that Vic rolls with. Alphonse is the fundamental reason behind Victor’s lonely existence in this world. He ordered the murder of hired hand’s family, and now Vic himself is seeking retribution for the crimes by taking out his boss and take down the entire organization from the inside.
When you read the description of the plot behind Dead Man Down and watch all of the trailers and advertisements, you have to think that this could be the WWE‘s breakthrough film that they’ve been hoping for. It looks like this is an all out action flick with some qualities to make it memorable and entertaining. Well if that’s what you want, then prepare to be disappointed, because that’s not what you’re getting in Niels Arden Oplev American feature film debut as a director.
The truth is, the viewing audience here is presented with very little legitimate action and none of it is as graphic as it would seem like it should have been. I mean it’s rated R, it’s called Dead Man Down and it’s from the director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie that debuted back in 2009. Not to deliver a gritty action movie with at least some kind of substance and quality would be a definite failure. Well, Mr. Vincent McMahon, we have what i like to call a failure.
The action isn’t even what I would consider to an important aspect of the film. It’s just there in a few scenes because it has to be. If it’s not, this is just an awkward love story that no one would want to watch. The budding romance between Victor and Beatrice is the true focal point of Dead Man Down. We spend more time on watching them finding out about how weird they are and looking into their past than we do of any of the actual stuff that they’re selling to the masses.
Another issue that stands out is the lack of a definitive storyline. The information that I give in the description is only part of what the story is about. If I said all that I wanted to, I would have disrupted the hidden aspects of the movie even more. In actuality, there are multiple stories going on in Dead Man Down and they don’t really have anything to do with each other. Because of this, there appears to be a lack of continuity in everything that’s on the screen. The set up in the opening scenes are solid, but then it tapers off and becomes disjointed soon after it all unfolds.
As far as the unmistakable lack of continuity goes, there’s one scene in particular that sticks out to me more than the others. You see this build up that looks like it’s going to jump into something really entertaining, but as we wait, you’ll notice that the film essentially jumps to the next scene without actually solving the previous scenes set up. I’m not saying that this is completely accurate (It is), but it feels like it just jumps right over the conclusion of that scene and goes over to the next scene. The conclusion of that scene would have been interesting, but they don’t even bother finishing what they built up.
I came into Dead Man Down looking for an all out action movie with blood, bodies and brains being splattered all over the place in a brutal and unforgiving war where its characters would never be the same. Instead of that, we get the occasional shootout with not too much in between aside from a less than stellar love story. FilmDistrict and WWE would have been better off taking the trailer for this movie and showing repeatedly for nearly two hours straight. That would have gotten boring after a while, but it would have been better than the actual movie.
Hopefully, Vincent Kennedy McMahon decides to put an end to his dreams of making it in Hollywood. Being completely serious, we have enough bad movies out there to watch already. I don’t think anyone in the entire world is asking for more terrible movies, so just stop if you’re not going to help develop, finance or distribute movies that some people might actually like. Other than that, I wish the WWE the best of luck in their future endeavors. I just hope it’s not on any theater screens near me.
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Film Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2013