Dead Man Down is Not Movieland, U.S.A.’s Best Offering


Nominally set in Manhattan but in actuality taking place in Movieland, U.S.A., where the police don’t materialize even when exploding cars are rammed into buildings in order to instigate machine-gun shootouts, Dead Man Down posits a reality in which Colin Farrell is a Hungarian engineer-turned-criminal, F. Murray Abraham is his uncle, Noomi Rapace is a French beautician with a scarred face, and Isabelle Huppert as her near-deaf mother. The stateside debut of Niels Arden Oplev (responsible for the original, lousy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), this laughably plotted and miscast saga follows Farrell’s Victor as he attempts to orchestrate elaborate murderous revenge against current mobster employer Alphonse (Terrence Howard) for the slaughter of his wife and daughter. That course of action in turn bonds him with Rapace’s Beatrice, who blackmails Victor into killing the drunk driver who marred her visage. It’s all so much turgid brooding, dialogue underlined with import, and leaden symbolism involving Rapace’s white and red dresses, none of which is salvaged by a typically understated Farrell performance. There isn’t a moment that doesn’t seem to have originated in a prior, better film, save for a perplexingly random and unintentionally amusing scene featuring Huppert thanking Farrell for returning her Tupperware.