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Dead Man Down(2013)
Two strangers are irresistibly drawn to one another by their mutual desire for revenge.
For more about Dead Man Down and the Dead Man Down Blu-ray release, see Dead Man Down Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Armand Assante, Isabelle Huppert
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
» See full cast & crew
Dead Man Down Blu-ray Review
Does this 'Dead Man' have a pulse or is he really D.O.A.?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 6, 2013
Life is what happens to you along the way.
Cinema has been so saturated with cookie-cutter pictures with cookie-cutter story lines -- many of them of shoddy-to-poor quality -- that it's sometimes difficult to distinguish one film from another. Many follow similar plot lines, like "man seeks revenge on the killer of his wife and child." Many attempt to cover a lack of novelty with darkly stylish overlays and wannabe cool but ultimately routine shootouts. Many others still rely on emotional cliché to try to persuade audiences to care about the characters. Many more overcomplicate or, worse, overdevelop a story to the point that it loses not its meaning but rather its feeling, the intimate connection with the audience, the sense of urgency, the want for justice, the need to see the character through the ordeal. Dead Man Down is victim of all of these. It's a terribly uninspired midline picture that's very dark and plays with little originality, sluggish pacing, marginal character development, and bookends with a couple of shootouts that may as well have been pulled from other movies. It's not awful, but it's not something that really speaks to its viewers, either. It's the very definition of "routine," a movie that won't scar the psyche but won't be stored in the memory banks, either.
Victor (Colin Farrell) lives everyday with the pain of losing his entire family. His wife and daughter were murdered for the betterment of a ruthless gangland lord named Alphonse (Terrence Howard). Victor has managed to wiggle his way into Alphonse's inner circle. He's even saved his life, once, and has gained the wrongdoer's trust. Alphonse has been receiving death threats, and one of his men, Darcy (Dominic Cooper), has taken it upon himself to investigate the source of the threats. As Victor works towards avenging his family, he meets his disfigured neighbor, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), whose attraction to him isn't so innocent. She has video evidence of Victor killing a man, and for her silence she wants him to kill the man who disfigured her in a drunk-driving automobile accident. As their attraction rises above business and as Victor inches ever closer to the business of killing Alphonse, Darcy slowly pieces together the truth and, if he digs deeply enough, may prove a hindrance to Victor's coup de grâce.
It all sounds rather humdrum, and Dead Man Down sadly doesn't translate any better to the screen. There's certainly an unmistakably slick and moody overlay, but that's not nearly enough to balance the lethargy and routine plot elements that significantly hinder the movie, that never really allow it to find a vibe, let alone ride one for the duration. There's nothing, really, that most haven't seen before, and there's certainly nothing to elevate the movie beyond the dramatic baseline. Each scenario in Director Niels Arden Oplev's (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) film yields another, equally unimaginative one. There's at least a glimmer of something different in the Victor-Beatrice relationship, but the film fails to explore the deeper psychological underpinnings of the relationship very far beyond the superficial. There's not any real dramatic dynamic between her visible scars and his invisible ones, other than that the other may be the key to healing. Yet the film predictably builds towards a violent climax rather than boldly use the relationship to find another avenue towards a more dramatically satisfying conclusion.
That's doubly disappointing considering that the film's major saving grace is the fantastic chemistry between Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace. There's an understated attraction, both physical and more deeply emotional, that's obvious in every scene they share. There seems to be so much more to explore, so many more layers to uncover, but Dead Man Down leaves much of it buried under the surface. That's not necessarily a bad thing. That invisible current ignites every scene they share and shows potential for something more emotionally satisfying to finish the movie, but eventually it does have to pay dividends. Instead, Dead Man Down takes the predictable, easy, convenient, little-effort, "fan friendly" way out of the story. Dominic Cooper's performance also elevates the movie above the linearity of its plot and emptiness of its general themes. He shows hints of the "comic relief" sidekick but ultimately rounds into a rather well developed character who builds toward a touching, well-done scene with Farrell that nearly makes the movie worthwhile and does a better job of bringing closure to the main story than any level of gunfire possibly could. Yet for as good as Farrell, Rapace, and Cooper may be, Terrence Howard nearly negates their efforts. He's a fine actor but terribly miscast in Dead Man Down. Never does he really show that bad guy snarl, the deep, menacing, don't-screw-with-me darkness. He delivers lines with some flavor but never digs deep enough to find that frightening attitude that should go with the part.
Dead Man Down Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dead Man Down, one of the year's darkest pictures, arrives on Blu-ray with a satisfactory high definition presentation. Black levels are, of course, critical to shaping the transfer. The bad news is that crush is evident throughout, though to varying degrees. There aren't many instances of blacks that are deep but still balanced enough not to simply devour large portions of the screen and the details therein. Otherwise, the transfer looks fine, though don't expect classic "eye candy." The darkness inhibits one's ability to enjoy the finer details or revel in brighter colors. There's a good, basic foundational clarity and sharpness to the image. Textures are fine, but there just aren't many instances of a truly revealing sort of visual structure thanks to the heavy dark overlay. The same holds true with colors. Subtlety and brilliance both are lost under the darker backdrops, but those rare brighter daytime scenes reveal a nice urban palette underneath. There are no major -- or minor, really -- instances of banding, blockiness, noise, or other unwanted elements. The transfer looks about as good as the style of movie allows.
Dead Man Down Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Dead Man Down significantly benefits from a robust DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The presentation showers the stage with well defined musical notes, particularly heavy club beats and bass. Similar elements melt into the background during the film's first major shootout. The combination of hardcore thumps with potent gunfire makes for a sonically invigorating sequence, particularly with the heavy gunfire slamming home from all around the stage. The climax begins with an insanely exciting crash that explodes into a barrage of gunfire. The entire end sequence sounds fantastic. Even through all the activity, not a single shot, crash, or other sound of mayhem comes into the stage without delivering an exceptional piece of what becomes a demo-worthy larger whole. The track delivers well-assembled and largely natural ambience, whether creating that sense of sonic emptiness -- an environment defined by a single low hum, for example -- or more robust thunder and falling rain in chapter twelve. Dialogue flows evenly and with careful balance from the center. This is another top-tier soundtrack from Sony.
Dead Man Down Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Dead Man Down contains three featurettes.
Dead Man Down Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
So, yes, there's a pulse, but it's faint. Dead Man Down is at least a well-crafted and occasionally compelling picture, but never is it remotely riveting or anywhere in the ballpark of "new." It flounders through character cliché, generic emotions, visually snazzy but nevertheless routine shootouts, and drags through a tedious middle stretch. The performances, save for the miscast Terrence Howard, carry the movie better than any other element. This is another in a disturbingly growing library of absolutely forgettable films, films that are neither awful nor for any reason memorable. Sony's Blu-ray release of Dead Man Down features good video and great audio. A few extras are included. Rent it.
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Dead Man Down Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: July 9-16 - July 7, 2013
For the week of July 2nd, Lionsgate is bringing Harmony Korine's provocative, satirical Spring Breakers to Blu-ray, with its hallucinatory widescreen energy and its great James Franco performance. Other releases include the Colin Farrell/Noomi Rapace neo-noir Dead ...
• Dead Man Down Blu-ray - May 13, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that it will release on a combo pack edition of director Niels Arden Oplev's Dead Man Down (2013), starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, and Terrence Howard. The release will be available for purchase on July 9th ...
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