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Dead Man Down
Genre Thriller
 
Review:

The original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo duo, Niels Arden Oplev and Noomi Rapace, have teamed up again for Dead Man Down. While another revenge-fueled crime thriller in the style of Guy Ritchie and Jo Nesbo, Dead Man Down has more artistic appeal in the vein of Killing Them Softly. The mix of gangster grit and borderline cheesy girl next door romance is propelled by a serial killer plot line as an anonymous middle man taunts a crime lord with a puzzle.

While there are some notable similarities with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in terms of casting, genre and style - this film cleverly composes a three-way story that draws you into a tangled web of deceit and revenge. It may take some time to settle into the cold-blooded world of Dead Man Down where guns do the talking and violence begets violence, but once the game plan is revealed it's a yippee-ki-yay thrill ride with a twisted romance at its core.

Noomi Rapace's career-defining role as Lisbeth Salander still has some hooks in the actress. She has an inner strength, which explains why she was a worthy substitute for Sigourney Weaver in Prometheus. Yet, this is a better "Hollywood" debut. In Dead Man Down, Rapace is a crutch to Colin Farrell, delivering another willful role as a broken woman intent on retribution. Her scarred face, self esteem and dark edge echo Salander, yet she's more restrained and feminine as Beatrice.

Farrell's no stranger to the genre and fits in perfectly as a slick thug. He's usually charming and suave in most of his roles, so it's quite refreshing to see the actor tripping into some awkward moments with Beatrice. Oplev breaks with Hollywood finesse, anchoring the environment and characters with human error and off-balance humour. Farrell's stern, brooding, hard-boiled performance as Victor takes on a new light as Beatrice becomes more involved in his life.

Dominic Cooper delivers one of his best performances in recent memory as Darcy. He contorts his body in such as way that the usually dapper actor is almost unrecognisable. Cooper is complex and sympathetic as Darcy, a friend of Victor's and a sniffer dog turned detective on the trail of the sinister inside man. Terrence Howard is equally as reliable, playing Alphonse with pretentious swagger in the grip of festering paranoia. You get the impression that he wasn't the first choice for the role, but his unavoidable likability does add another dimension.

The plotting is heavy and there are several moments where Dead Man Down seems like it's on the verge of collapsing from the weight. However, it manages to stay aloft thanks to its fine cast and some deftly handled twists. There's enough content to have warranted a TV series, yet Oplev's style gives Dead Man Down its own sense of style and purpose. Dead Man Down delivers Jo Nesbo retribution, Guy Ritchie characters, Die Hard action intensity with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo seriousness. It's flawed, but intricate, exciting and entertaining enough to keep you riveted.

The bottom line: Cold-blooded

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