Farrell shines in ‘Dead Man Down’
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 21:03
There’s a scene in “Dead Man Down” where Colin Farrell lifts a blindfold from a tied up man’s face, causing the man to scream, “That’s impossible, we killed you!” Farrel yells back repeatedly, “I swear to you on their graves, you didn’t,” with an intensity that gave me goosebumps. This is where I realized Colin Farrell was the right guy for this role. I truly feel bad for him. I like him as an actor, but he just doesn’t really get good roles anymore. He keeps insisting on being a leading man, action star despite the fact that he has not had a successful movie since 2003. For some reason he is allowed to act in movies like the awful “Total Recall” remake and “Alexander” without ruining his career. I’m not sure how he pulls this off, but I’m okay with it because he does work as an action star more or less. However, “Dead Man Down” cannot yet be added to the long list of Colin Farrell lead flops just yet.
There’s a lot more heart and substance to Dead Man Down then its ridiculous title or marketing campaign have allowed you to see. The movie is all about the morality of revenge and whether or not it is okay to take a life for a life. To make a long and complicated story short, Lazlo’s (Farrell) family was murdered due to crime lord Alphonse’s (Terrance Howard) orders and an Albanian gang that actually pulled the trigger. A Hungarian engineer new to Manhattan, Lazlo learns to lose the accent, changes his name to Victor and becomes part of Alphonse’s crew in order to get close enough to exact his revenge. His neighbor, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), witnesses him murder someone in his apartment. The right side of her face is completely scarred from an accident in which a drunk driver hit her. She uses a video of Lazlo’s murder to blackmail him into murdering the drunk driver.
The film is more of a drama than an action film. I had never seen a movie by this director before, but his “Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” film trilogy has gathered a cult following so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He handles the characters, the emotions and most things well, but he seems out of place and uncomfortable in action. There are only really three action sequences. The first one, in the beginning, is poorly directed. There is a huge shootout and the camera is constantly moving. It is hard to follow and feels almost as if, for some reason, this hard R-rated movie is trying to censor all the violence out of this scene. The first was in tight, crowded spaces and while the other two take place in more open environments where the characters have more space. I think the director was unsure how to film a shootout in a tight space, but the second and third work better and provide enough action to satisfy.
There is a very dark and serious atmosphere all throughout the film, with no comic relief or attempt to lighten things up at all. While the action scenes could have been better-directed and Terrance Howard’s crime boss could have been given more development, there are really only minor flaws here and there. Dead Man Down pleasantly surprised me. Those expecting another bad Colin Farrell action movie will be surprised to find this to be a more emotional and more gripping story than one might expect. Farrell clearly hasn’t realized it yet, but he actually does better in these kinds of roles than action roles. Either way, I’m sure we’ll see more action movies with him in the future since he insists on it.