Friday, August 23, 2013

Dead Man Down

Get out your guns and cut-up pictures, we're reviewing Dead Man Down!

Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) blackmails Victor (Colin Farrell) into killing a man who hurt her, but Victor is a bad man in a bad organization run by Alphonse (Terrence Howard) and Victor's got revenge plans of his own. Will Victor help Beatrice?

Ugh. Dammit. Fuckdammit. This is going to be one of those ranty-complainy reviews. Actually, here's the review: don't see it. The rest is just going to be me complaining.

Y'know, this is no one's fault but my own. I knew it couldn't be that good. Especially when all the critics came out and said it wasn't good. But dammit, it had a fantastic trailer. I just had to see it. I had to know.

Oh, to be innocent again.

This is a bad, boring, mess of a movie. It angers me because it had at least some potential to be decent, but throughout the entire thing, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters. It didn't help that I thought Karl Urbane was going to be in it (turns out I was wrong – it was Dominic Cooper). The main problem? We never get a good reason to care about these characters. Even if we're thrown into the middle of the conflict and aren't introduced to them, there should at least be some reasons why we like these guys. They should at least have the smallest inkling of personality.

It starts out with a meaningless action scene, introducing our hero, Victor, as a guy who can shoot things, and – am I supposed to feel anything for this guy? We just met him, and we don't know anything about him, why should we care? Why is this scene important?!

We really don't find out anything about him, other than that his wife and children were killed. Which, sure, that's tragic – but I know a lot of heroes who have suffered that loss. Why is this guy so special?

From the trailers, it looks like the guy who hurt Beatrice is Alphonse, leading to what would appear to be a pretty interesting conflict for Victor. Does he murder his boss and risk losing his life? Or does he refuse and risk Beatrice going to the cops? Man, is that a great noir set-up! But, that's not the story at all. Beatrice just wants him to kill some random guy, which: Wow! Who cares? Didn't Victor just kill 4 or 5 guys in the first ten minutes? How is Beatrice’s proposition a problem for him, then? Now I know why the previews made it seem like everything was connected: That is a much cooler story. I wanted to see that story! Ugh.

There is one good thing. I was fairly sure Beatrice was raped by the guy she's getting revenge on, but then it turns out she's just a car crash victim. Boy was I relieved she was only scarred and injured through vehicular recklessness! That's the world we live in, where I'm glad she was only in a car crash. So, points for that. But, then again, she's used as a damsel in distress later because reasons so POINTS REVOKED, MOTHER FUCKER.

And hey, that's a pretty interesting plot point! Maybe it will say something about drunk driving and the failed justice system! No? Is this guy connected to the rest of the story in any way providing any other meaningful conflict or plot development? No? Maybe some cool character moments where she has to live with half her face gone or a prosthetic limb? … Nope. Just slightly scarred on one side. Ah.

There's action and shooting and explosions and I have never not cared more. It's just pointless, and I wanted it to be over so I could find out how it all ends. They aren't really choreographed all that interestingly, and there isn't even some cool trip-hop or jazz like in the trailer. There is action, some of it’s not terrible, but there’s nothing good enough to waste your time watching the whole movie for. There's a sniper scene, and he drives a truck through a building once. There ya go.

I'm slightly glad I did suffer through this because now I can say safely say that it is NOT NOIR. This is straight-up action-drama. Dodged a bullet there! The ending is not ambiguous or murky at all; it's wrapped up with a nice, tight little bow. SPOILERS IN THE NEXT SENTENCE: Everyone ends up happy with no loose ends or ambiguity. Super-boring and disappointing. END SPOILERS I GUESS. 

Noomi Rapace is always good, but she's not given much to do except look sad and freak out. I really wanted more from her character but there's just nothing here. Y'know with the Dragon Tattoo series, Prometheus, and this, her characters have had it pretty rough. Maybe her next movie can be something where she's super happy all the time and nothing bad ever happens to her. Colin Farrell's main emotion here is looking confused. If you like Colin Farrell, this is definitely a movie he is in. Terrence Howard doesn't get any room to play with his character. There's no menace, no charm, he's just the generic bad guy, which is a waste.

 It's a damn shame because this movie could have been something. WE COULDA BEEN SOMEBODY. But it's just Generic Action Movie #67. Have some interesting character development! Make a twisting narrative! Put the vice to your characters! Do a crazy out-of-nowhere ending! Say something about society and the human condition! Anything! But no. There's not even that much here.

THE GOOD: There are actors who act, there is action, no rapes.

THE BAD: No reason to care about the characters, action is meh, story is meh, ending wraps up too nicely, soundtrack is bland, nothing happens.

$$ Don't bother. Just don't. Don't be like me. You don't have to know.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Give Em Hell Malone, Drive

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Y'know what? Just go watch the trailer again. I mean it's not an accurate depiction of what happens, but it will be more appealing than any sequence in the movie.

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