Dead Man Down Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert
  • Director: Niels Arden Oplev
  • Writers: J.H. Wyman
  • Producers: Bailey Conway, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Deepak Nayar, J.H. Wyman, Joseph Zolfo
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: July 9, 2013
  • Run Time: 118 minutes


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            I watch a lot of movies. There are very few that I discriminate against, and I tend to watch even those. I love escapist entertainment, including the brainless action films which have had a revival in Hollywood for the past decade with many legendary stars returning to the genre. I also like to turn my brain on when watching a film, and to feel challenged both mentally and emotionally with complex narrative and compelling characters. Most filmgoers tend to choose one or the other of these two types of movies; often arthouse films cannot be found at the same Cineplex playing the latest blockbuster.

     

            2013 seems to be a year of disappointment for Danish directors, with Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives receiving less than favorable early reviews and audience boos at a Cannes press screening and just as many critics bashing Dead Man Down, which was the English-language debut from Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Oplev also has a summer series on CBS called “Under the Dome,” which premiered this past week and has thirteen episodes in the first season. I hope that American audiences can learn to appreciate Oplev, because I was a fan of the blending of Hollywood action with a European sensibility towards character and pacing which the filmmaker used in Dead Man Down. For that matter, I think Only God Forgives may be a little bit brilliant, despite being one of the more difficult films. In other words, I applaud anyone willing to mix it up a bit. Hollywood recruits these talented foreign directors for their unique approach, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they aren’t compelled to make safe movies.

     

            Dead Man Down is a revenge film at its core, though this is underneath layers of twists and turns in each of the significant characters. What is important to know is that Colin Farrell heads up the cast as Victor, the right hand man to an underground New York crime lord named Alphonse (Terrance Howard). When Victor begins a strange friendship with the woman living in the building across from him (Noomi Rapace), she blackmails him for his abilities as an experienced killer in order to enact revenge for wrongs from her past.

     

            The plot is more complex than that, with many characters not exactly as they appear. In order to avoid spoiling any of the reveals, all that really needs to be known is that the relationship between this gangster and his neighbor is central to the plot, leading up to a classic over-blown shootout. I enjoyed this film, but was also pleasantly engaged by the characters and the acting. Many action fans will find there are too many dialogue scenes, too much melodrama. Arthouse fans will find the action to be unbelievable and better suited for Stallone or his cohorts. Fortunately, I am a fan of both and found the balance made for a perfectly well-rounded evening of entertainment.

     

            The Blu-ray includes both a DVD and digital copy of the film. There are two exclusive featurettes on the high definition disc; one about the casting and another about the film’s cinematography, which was done by Paul Cameron. Also included is a featurette about the firefights in film, and how they were choreographed.

     

    Entertainment Value: 9/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 7/10

    Disc Features: 6/10

     

     

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