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dead man down

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DEAD MAN DOWN (MA) teams Colin Farrell  with the  original girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace, in a screwball guns a blazing revenger.

It reteams Rapace with her Dargon Tatoo director, Niels Arden Oplev in his American feature debut

The screenplay by J.H. (Joel) Wyman, writer of the Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts adventure The Mexican,  percolated for six years as the complexities of the story and characters came together. This is a shoot ‘em up that shatters preconceptions that the genre is in danger of being just unimaginative dross.

Farrell plays  a feller  whose festering revenge on the felon who fatally farewelled his family formulates into infiltrating the felonious punk’s gang and waging  a fear campaign that promotes paranoia between criminal king-pins before he starts killing them.

On their first date, she makes an indecent proposal. She has cottoned on that he is  a killer and wants him to top the culpable driver responsible for her ravaged visage. Blackmail and revenge is not a normal bedrock for  a relationship, but these two battered souls strike up a strong if unusual bond.

Add to the mix her hearing impaired mother, played by the incomparable Isabelle Huppert, and the couple’s courting becomes a lot quirkier.

The criminal element is an eclectic , eloquent bunch with Terence Howard as Victor’s prime target, Alphonse, a dangerous dandy and shoe fetishist, his loyal lieutenant, Darcy, played by Dominic Copper. Darcy opens the film with a touching and raw plea to his friend Victor about his trying personal situation, all while cradling his newborn baby, Victor’s godson. The juxtaposition of what he’s saying and who he is doesn’t seem to add up.  It sets him up as complicated from the beginning. He’s capable of violence, but his need and desperation strikes a sympathetic chord.

Armand Assante as Don Lon Gordon, F. Murray Abraham as Gregor, Victor’s mentor give gravitas to what could have been mere subordinate and  subsidiary roles.

There’s action and mayhem  as de rigeur for a film like this, but it’s the characters that provide the cream to this cut above crime caper

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