"DEAD MAN DOWN" (2013) (Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace) (R)
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Action/Thriller: A man infiltrates the crime ring responsible for the murder of his wife and daughter two years earlier.
Victor (COLIN FARRELL) is the right-hand man of Alphonse (TERRENCE HOWARD), a Manhattan drug lord. Two years earlier, though, his name was Lazlo and he was a Hungarian immigrant with a wife and a child. Both were murdered by members of Alphonse's posse working with a vicious Albanian crime ring to claim various buildings and street corners throughout the New York metro area. Victor faked his own death and has spent the time since infiltrating Alphonse's organization for the purposes of one day exacting revenge.
Matters are complicated when his neighbor, Beatrice (NOOMI RAPACE), blackmails him with a video showing Victor strangling one of Alphonse's employees. Months earlier, a drunk driver slammed into her vehicle, causing an accident that has left her face and parts of her body scarred. The driver, though, was barely punished and is once again a free man. Beatrice orders Victor to kill the man or else she'll turn the video in to the police.
As the two conspire together, an attraction develops and Beatrice comes to learn of Victor's tragic past. Ultimately, Victor must engineer a final revenge plan that will also ensnare Albanian crime boss, Ilir (JAMES BIBERI); keep Beatrice and her mother, Valentine (ISABELLE HUPPERT) out of harm's way; and also spare Darcy (DOMINIC COOPER), a member of Alphonse's gang who he has become close friends with.
OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that are shown to critics very late the night before release is that we'll only provide a couple of paragraphs on the movie's artistic merits.
Oh, to be Colin Farrell and to look simply smashing whether in a pouring rainstorm or a raging wind tunnel or bleeding profusely from the head. Too bad he can't look good while acting out a bad screenplay. "Dead Man Down" is his latest action thriller, and I guess I can understand why he signed on to it. The director is Niels Arden Oplev, who helmed the original foreign-language version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." And Farrell's leading lady here is Noomi Rapace, the beguiling actress who played the title role in that film.
Here, though, they can't make much of a generic revenge tale that centers around Victor (Farrell), a once-good man who has infiltrated a New York crime ring headed by Terrence "Man, I Could Have Had Iron Man Sequel Money" Howard. Victor's plan is to exact revenge on the gangsters who murdered his wife and daughter two years earlier. At the same time, Rapace's Beatrice has discovered Victor's secret and is blackmailing him to kill the drunk driver who injured her months earlier.
The film is grim, bleak, and ultimately preposterous when it turns into a bloodbath at its climax that feels like something out of a '80s-era Stallone or Schwarzenegger flick. It's also as forgettable as its title. I rate it no higher than 3.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)