SECOND LOOK: DEAD MAN DOWN (2013)
By Michael Arruda
I was eager to see DEAD MAN DOWN (2013) again.
It was one of my favorite movies from 2013. Yet, I heard a lot of negative things about it afterwards, and I was surprised it didn’t do better at the box office. Hmm. Could I have been the victim of popcorn euphoria? That condition where the movie popcorn is so buttery and delicious the movie on the screen goes from mediocre to amazing?
Still, I wanted to see DEAD MAN DOWN (2013) again, and so I watched it the other night on streaming video.
I still liked it. End of column.
But seriously, I had heard a decent amount of criticism about this movie, and so I wanted to see if maybe I missed something the first time around.
For example, the biggest complaint I heard was that it was all rather contrived.
The plot again, in a nutshell, involves a man named Victor (Colin Farrell) concocting an elaborate revenge plot against a local crime lord Alphonse (Terence Howard) because he was responsible for the death of his wife and young daughter. To do this, Victor goes undercover to infiltrate Alphonse’s organization, pretending to be a loyal lieutenant, waiting for the right moment to kill his enemy.
His plans become more complicated when his neighbor Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) sees him murder one of Alphonse’s men and then uses this information to coerce Victor into murdering the man responsible for scarring her face in a drunk-driving accident. Along the way, Victor and Beatrice become romantically involved, while Victor’s buddy Darcy (Dominic Cooper), a rising star in Alphonse’ organization, leads the charge to find the man who’s trying to kill Alphonse, meaning he’s unknowingly on the trail of his own best friend.
Some folks had difficulty believing that Victor would allow himself to be coerced by Beatrice. Why not just kill her and be done with it? But as I wrote in my original review, Victor hates killing:
“You may ask why Victor allows himself to be blackmailed by Beatrice in the first place, and why he doesn’t just kill her to shut her up. The fact is that Victor hates killing, which makes his quest for revenge against Alphonse all the more effective, as it shows how deeply Victor has been scarred. Beatrice has scars on her face, but Victor has scars on his soul. There’s a powerful human element in this movie that in spite of its preoccupation with retribution, shows a value for life and love that I found refreshing. Victor and Beatrice may hate the people who hurt them, but they don’t hate the human race, and they’re saved from falling into an emotionless abyss when they fall in love with each other.”
Others have complained that it was unrealistic that Beatrice would approach Victor in the first place. What kind of a person sees a man commit murder and then thinks she can blackmail him into murdering someone else? Well, Beatrice is a wounded soul, and she suffers from more than just the scars on her face. Like Victor, the events from her life have hardened her resolve, made her a very cold person. For me, this made her a very interesting character. It also made her love story with Victor all the more enjoyable, because you can see how they’re clinging to humanity, and how they view their relationship with each other as hope that they can remain in the human race.
I really enjoyed the cast in DEAD MAN DOWN, and to me they’re the main reason this movie works so well. Colin Farrell is excellent at Victor, as is Noomi Rapace as Beatrice, and Dominic Cooper is just as good as Darcy. These three fine actors don’t disappoint.
Director Niels Arden Oplev crafts some compelling scenes, including some violent shoot-outs and an exciting chase scene, and I still find the scene with the rats chilling and effective.
So, even after a second viewing in the comfort of my living room, I still very much enjoyed DEAD MAN DOWN and still consider it one of the best films from 2013.
If you like hard hitting dark thrillers, check out DEAD MAN DOWN, now available on Streaming Video.