Film review: Dead Man Down (15)


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The Independent Culture

The plot feint that occurs about half an hour into this New York-set revenge thriller is the single interesting thing about it. Colin Farrell plays the hardnut enforcer of a mob boss (Terrence Howard) who's being targeted by an anonymous foe; the story kicks off with one of his minions found in the deep freeze with a message threatening more to follow.

Farrell, meanwhile, is attracted to the young woman (Noomi Rapace) who waves to him from the window of the apartment opposite, not seeing from this distance that one side of her face is cross-hatched with scars.

It paves the way for a double-secret twist that promises to illuminate the dull genre material – a false promise, alas. The plotting corkscrews madly without achieving lift-off, hampered by fussy bits of business with mobile phones, cut-up photographs and Fedex packages. (Someone should have Fedexed them a decent script.)

Danish director Niels Arden Oplev reunites with his Dragon Tattoo star Rapace, and bolsters his cast with Dominic Cooper as a mob foot-soldier and (mon Dieu) Isabelle Huppert as Rapace's controlling mother. Farrell, stubbled and saturnine, gamely holds the centre, but it's ponderous stuff, spiked with nasty flashes of torture of a kind that seem almost obligatory nowadays in middling crime dramas.