Dead Man Down [Blu-Ray] Niels Arden Oplev

Dead Man Down [Blu-Ray] Niels Arden Oplev
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Amidst the publicity fluff populating the three Blu-Ray supplements on themes, production and aesthetics is the question of determining a tone for a film that, in essence, is a gritty, violent fairy tale and love story. The characters are all exaggerations, as are the scenarios, yet the environment they inhabit and the scenarios they find themselves in are engrained in a rotten underbelly reality. This latter candid thriller aspect of a love story between two emotionally damaged social outsiders — hardened, vengeful criminal Victor (Colin Farrell) and permanently scarred beautician Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) — ultimately defines and propels Dead Man Down, giving the impression that the more hyperbolized and romanticized elements of the story are errors in judgment and tone rather than an aspect of storytelling. Victor, a man with a hidden agenda working for Alphonse (Terrence Howard), a crime lord with real-estate ties, becomes a focus and obsession for his high-rise neighbour, Beatrice. Able to see into his apartment from her balcony, she develops a fixation on him that relates to her emotional baggage as a happy, beautiful woman turned monster after a drunk driver left her seriously injured. Vengeance and misanthropy are the consistencies in the many storylines and character motivations floating around the cool grey colour palette and steely storyboarded precision of this off-kilter psychodrama. As Victor's true motivations and persona are slowly revealed, Alphonse's quest to find the man killing his various underlings becomes increasingly erratic. Based on the muscular, realist look and feel, this aspect of the story is the most accessible and believable. Where Dead Man Down runs into trouble is in trying to sell the heart of the story, which, oddly enough, is a bigger overall priority than the action and violence that pop up occasionally, despite not having the directorial style to support them. Victor and Beatrice both have tragic pasts. Their conversations and exchanges are exceedingly awkward and disconcerting, leaving a perpetual sense of unease during their early meetings. This preoccupation with the clumsy social chemistry of two damaged people is somewhat contrary to the bland genre elements of the central expository quest driving the love story aspect forward. It feels like it's from a different movie, much like the exaggerated aspects of their relationship, such as Beatrice's tendency to freak out or randomly get attacked by wayward teenagers for having a few facial scars. There's a lofty, unrealistic, whimsical nature to these two characters and their interactions that has some emotional intensity in its own right, but it struggles with credulity within the context of a crime noir. Within the mix are some interesting ideas about the nature of trust and counter-instinctual survivalist isolation, but it's hard to get at amidst the mangled tone. Beyond the aforementioned brief special features about filming and the ongoing professional relationship between Rapace and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev, the Blu-Ray has nothing particularly compelling to offer beyond the film. (eOne)