Dead Man Down review (Blu-ray)

The latest in the long line of spectacularly average films from the mighty WWE Studios is Farrell’s revenge thriller, Dead Man Down. It definitely has a lot of revenge seeking, but unfortunately not much about that is particularly thrilling.

The story centres around Victor (Farrell) who works for crime boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard), assisting him in all manner of criminal activities. Early on it becomes apparent that someone has it in for Alphonse, sending him threatening letters and pictures and so we follow the gang as they try to uncover the identity of the person or persons. Alongside this, Victor develops a relationship with Beatrice (Rapace), who lives in the building opposite. While on a date she reveals she saw him kill someone and wants him to kill the man who crashed into her car, horribly scarring her.

That plot is certainly not the worst plot I have ever heard in my life and after the first 20 or so minutes, while I was not fully hooked, I was definitely intrigued enough to see where the film was heading. However, it rapidly lost my interest after a series of poorly-constructed scenes and plot twists which just felt way too forced. Chief among these was one scene between Victor and Alphonse where (minor spoiler alert!) the audience is now very aware that it is in fact Victor who has been sending the threatening letters. Alphonse has no idea, but we have this really tense scene between the two of them with Alphonse explaining what he will do when he finds out the identity of this man. However, this loses any tension that it might have had as we already know Victor is there because they are setting a trap for the man. It’s a stupid scene that serves no narrative purpose.

Further issues come from the fact that Howard makes for the least threatening crime boss I can remember, he has absolutely no menace about him whatsoever. Rapace’s plot thread is also not well fleshed out. She is apparently bullied by the local kids for being a disfigured monster yet to me it just looked as though she had some red crayon on the side of her face – she is still the pretty face the studio wants in the film.

Dead Man Down is not massively heavy on the action until the final scene where things go all Die Hard 5 and it all becomes way too over the top with cars being launched into houses and Budweiser can grenades; it seems like a lazy way to wrap things up by having everyone simply shoot each other.

The plot isn’t bad, the acting is reasonable, though neither Rapace not Farrell are ever really stretched. There are a few decent ideas, but they are not pulled off with any skill whatsoever and it just ends up being a film that is somewhere in between a tense crime thriller and a vapid action film – and not a very good one at that.

EXTRAS ★ Just three short featurettes – Staging the Action: The Firefights (5:43); Revenge and Redemption: Crafting Dead man Down (11:30); and Revenge Technique: The Cinematography (6:31).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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