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Dead Man Down (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 5, 2013 by  



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“Dead Man Down” may not be the great cinematic reunion between filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev and Noomi Rapace, that I have hoped for.   The film may not be a great crime thriller due to its pacing but for a straight-up popcorn crime thriller with plenty of action, for those wanting something that is action-packed, filled with twists but yet a storyline that is not too deep, “Dead Man Down” is for you!

Images courtesy of © 2013 DMD Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dead Man Down

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 117 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), Mastered in High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Descriptive Track 5. 1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Violence, Language Throughout and Scene of Sexuality)

Release Date: July 9, 2013

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Written by J.H. Wyman

Producer: Neal H. Moritz, J.H. Wyman

Executive Producer: Stuart Ford, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Michael Luisi, Ori Marmur, Deepak Nayar, Peter Schlessel, Reid Shane

Co-Executive Producer: Steve Squillante, Joseph Zolfo

Production Executive: Bailey Conway

Music by Jacob Groth

Cinematography by Paul Cameron

Edited by Timothy A. Good, Frederic Thoraval

Casting by Amanda Mackey Johnson

Production Design by Niels Sejer

Art Direction by Jesse Rosenthal

Set Decoration by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus

Starring:

Colin Farrell as Victor

Noomi Rapace as Beatrice

Terrence Howard as Alphonse

Dominic Cooper as Darcy

Isabelle Huppert as Valentine Louzon

Luis Da Silva Jr. as Terry

Stu Bennett as Kilroy

Franky G as Luco

Declan Mulvey as Goff

John Cenatiempo as Charles

Victor (Farrell), a professional killer and the right hand man to an underground crime lord in New York City (Howard), is seduced and blackmailed by Beatrice (Rapace), a crime victim seeking retribution. Their chemistry and intense relationship leads them to execute a violent and cathartic plan for revenge

For Denmark filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev, he has had a good number of TV success with “Millennium”, “The Eagle”, “Forsvar” and “Unforgettable”, but for international film fans, its his 2009 Swedish film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, a film based on Stieg Larsson’s novel, that introduced the world to Oplev.  It was also a film that introduced actress Noomi Rapace (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, “Prometheus”, “Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows”) to the world.

And now the two reunite for the American crime thriller “Dead Man Down”, written by J.H. Wyman (“Fringe”, “The Mexican”) and starring Colin Farrell (“Phone Booth”, “Total Recall”, “Alexander”), Terrence Howard (“Iron Man”, “Hustle & Flow”, “Crash”, “The Brave One”), Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”, “The Duchess”, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) and Isabelle Huppert (“The Piano Teacher”, “I Heart Huckabees”, “Amour”, “8 Women”).

The film was released in U.S. theaters in March 2012 and now will be released on Blu-ray in June 2013.

“Dead Man Down” is a film that begins with a ruthless mob kingpin named Alphonse Hoyt (portrayed by Terrence Howard) receiving a message placed in the hand of a dead individual.  A death threat that he first thinks is connected to Jamaicans.  He is saved by Victor (portrayed by Colin Farrell), who eventually becomes Hoyt’s right hand man.

Meanwhile, Darcy (portrayed by Dominic Cooper), Victor’s good friend, wants to prove his worthiness to Alphonse, so he can grow in the ranks of the criminal organization, especially now that he has a family.    And both Victor and Darcy do what they can for their boss Alphonse.

But in truth, Victor is a man who infiltrated Alphonse’s organization and has been planning his revenge in making Alphonse pay for the murder of his wife and his young daughter.  Years ago, both Victor (going by a different name) and his wife were to go on trial for the shooting death of their daughter and in order to prevent a trial, Alphonse ordered both parents to be killed.  Victor survived and has planned his life in order to get revenge.

Victor has kidnapped the brother of the Albanian kingpin Ilir (portrayed by James Biberi), who helped Alphonse in disposing of Victor and his family and now Victor plans to pit the Albanians and Alphonse’s crew together, so he can get his revenge and eliminate them, including Alphonse.

Meanwhile, Victor who lives in an apartment sees a mysterious woman across another building looking at him and eventually the two start getting in contact with each other.

The woman is named Beatrice (portrayed by Noomi Rapace) who lives in the apartment with her mother Valentine (portrayed by Isabelle Huppert).  Part of Beatrice’s face is disfigured due to a car accident caused by a drunk driver.

When Beatrice and Victor meet, she reveals that she has been following him but also reveals to him that she has video of him committing murder.  She threatens to reveal him to the police unless he does one thing for her and that is to kill the man who hit her in the accident, a man who never paid for disfiguring her face for his drunk driving.

Not wanting his mission of revenge to be destroyed by Beatrice, he agrees and through the course of time, the two are drawn close to each other.

Meanwhile, Darcy has been investigating the mystery behind the family that Alphonse had eliminated and thinks it may be connected.  But what happens when Darcy finds out the family is actually Victor’s.

Will Victor achieve his revenge and will he murder another for Beatrice’s sake?

VIDEO:

“Dead Man Down” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  Picture quality for “Dead Man Down” is fantastic.  Colors are vibrant, black levels are nice and deep.  Great amount of detail during close-up scenes and the cinematography by Paul Cameron is very good and the film looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dead Man Down” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English-Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Dialogue is crystal clear and the film has a pretty immersive soundtrack when it comes to the action sequences.  Great use of surround for the scenes that involve a lot of gun shots but for the most part, it’s a well-balanced lossless soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English SDH, English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dead Man Down ” come with the following special features:

  • Revenge and Redemption: Crafting Dead Man Down – (11:50) Niels Arden Oplev talks about directing the film and working with the cast.  The cast discusses working with Niels.
  • Revenge Technique: The Cinematography – (6:31) Director Niels Arden Oplev and cinematographer Paul Cameron discuss the locations of where “Dead Man Down” is shot.
  • Staging the Action: The Firefights – (5:44) Featuring behind-the-scenes of various action scenes from “Dead Man Down”.

EXTRAS:

“Dead Man Down” comes with a slip cover, DVD and Digital Copy via UltraViolet.

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Ever since I watched “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, I have instantly become a fan of Noomi Rapace and have been excited about her opportunities of starring in American films.

But with “Dead Man Down”, there was a part of me that was so happy because it reunited “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” director Niels Arden Oplev with Rapace for a crime thriller, but also pairing her with actor Colin Farrell and the film would also star Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper.

While revenge films are quite banal in Hollywood, from Kevin Costner’s “Revenge” to “Punisher”, “Deathwish” to “Gladiator” or even one of my favorites, “Braveheart”, if done right, they can be fantastic!

Having watched “Dead Man Down”, for a film that I have had quite high hopes for, I have mix feelings about the film.

I felt that Colin Farrell did a good job of playing the family man turned right-hand man of a crime boss that he plans to kill.  We see a man conflicted with emotions of what he is doing, after he meets Beatrice.  His plan is to avenge his dead family and he has followed the path to getting his revenge, but meeting Beatrice, has changed his life.  Can this man find happiness in his life once again?

As for Noomi Rapace as Beatrice, what I liked about her character is a woman who seems as normal as day but also has a thirst for revenge towards a man who disfigured her face via a drunk driving accident.  While the character of Beatrice is shown caring for the character of Victor, we see scenes where people in the neighborhood call her monster and throw things at her.    It’s hard to see this happening as Beatrice is not horribly disfigured.  If anything, her long hair covers the disfigured part of her face but it’s not a sight that is hard to look at.   I suppose that makeup designers could have made her even more disfigured to add to the tension of why she wants revenge or why the children near her neighborhood treat her like an outcast but looking at her, she looks far from horrific or anything negative.

I also have problems with Terrence Howard’s character of Alphonse.   Not to say he wasn’t a convincing crime boss but there was too much hesitation or compassion from this character that its hard to despise him.  Yes, he authorized the killing of Victor’s family but the character of Alphonse would have been much better to showcase him as a vile, ruthless character.  Most of the time, we see this man in fear of someone taking his life and I think I would have rather enjoyed the film, if the antagonist was someone that you can root for Victor to go after.  It would have made a much more exciting plot!

So, for a crime thriller, I did like Victor and Beatrice and how the two find each other through revenge and darkness but I wanted to see more of why they are driven to revenge.  Back in the ’80s and ’90s, we saw the banality in revenge films  showcasing a good family torn apart with scenes of murder of a loved one or family.  That image made you root for the protagonist throughout the film because we saw and felt the scope of the pain the character endures.  You get flashbacks in “Dead Man Down” but showcasing why Victor is desperate for revenge effectively and I would be rooting for his character.

But in the case of how the film was presented, the revenge element is a bit watered down with the “two characters find love in the most unlikely situations” storyline.  And an antagonist that doesn’t make you cringe.

I did enjoy the location shots, I did enjoy the action sequences and for the most part, Colin Farrell does a great job in this action role.  But there is something uneven about “Dead Man Down” that prevents it from being a great American crime thriller.  The pacing felt off because of its switch from action to romantic/drama and the film could not recover from it.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and lossless audio is quite effective during the action scenes.  There is also a few special features included with the Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Dead Man Down” may not be the great cinematic reunion between filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev and Noomi Rapace, that I have hoped for.   The film may not be a great crime thriller due to its pacing but for a straight-up popcorn crime thriller with plenty of action, for those wanting something that is action-packed, filled with twists but yet a storyline that is not too deep, “Dead Man Down” is for you!






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