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With: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, F. Murray Abraham, Armand Assante
Written by: J.H. Wyman
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality
Running Time: 110
Date: 03/08/2013

Dead Man Down (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Funereal Plot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Niels Arden Oplev, who helmed the original Swedish version of the international success The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes a solid English-language debut with Dead Man Down. Working again with star Noomi Rapace, he crafts a well-paced thriller to rival that hit. Like his previous film, it's a sturdy potboiler, directed with a European sense of space and rhythm, accepting character flaws, and allowing time for characters to breathe and develop at their own pace.

Victor (Colin Farrell) works for a gangster called Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard), and, though he seems loyal, he's actually working undercover to get revenge for the death of his wife and daughter. In the middle of a complex scheme to lure a group of bad guys under one roof, he meets opposition when his best friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper) begins to investigate his secret activities. Worse, a pretty neighbor, Beatrice (Rapace) figures out who he is and asks him to kill the drunk driver that disfigured her face. When Victor and Beatrice begin to get romantically involved, Victor's plan slowly becomes unraveled. But, after incurring the wrath of the gangsters, will he be able to set things right again?

The screenplay by J.H. Wyman (The Mexican) contains a few twisty surprises in the first half, but even after everything is revealed, the movie keeps the momentum chugging toward an exciting conclusion. It doesn't rely too much on gore or violence and rather enjoys its colorful supporters, including Isabelle Huppert as a deaf, doting mother, Armand Assante as a scary gangster, and F. Murray Abraham as a helpful father-in-law. Overall, it's a decent, logical revenge-based thriller, better than many.

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