Blog Archives

Director Alexandre Aja’s Terrifying Remake of The Hills Have Eyes

mitng-30_30

hhe_poster

The effects of nuclear testing have had a long lasting and devastating effect on a desolate mining community in the hills of the New Mexico desert.  One thing’s clear – someone has to pay.

On their 25th wedding anniversary, Bob (Ted Levine) and Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan), traveling across the desert in their Airstream trailer with their entire family, are about to cross paths with a pack of mutant cannibals hell bent on exacting revenge.

hhe_4This 2006 remake of the original Wes Craven film, is helmed by Alexandre Aja, the director responsible for terrifying (and delighting) us with High Tension.  Aja dares to take the audience into some very palatable dark places.  Places where real terror resides.  Forget the supernatural.  Forget the inexplicable.  In Aja’s vision, there is reason everywhere, and the dangers are very tangible.

When I saw this film years ago, I swore I would never watch it again.  The Hills Have Eyes evoked such terrible feelings, such fear, such disgust, that I could barely make it through the film.

Gah!!  Fine.  Challenge accepted.

The sense of dread is absolutely overwhelming as I wait for that little red Netflix envelope to arrive.  The anxiety ishhe_0 so acute that I can barely sleep the night before I know I will wake up and have to watch it.  In fact, I wake early, on a Saturday, at around 7 in the morning.  No longer able to stand it, I pop in Alexandre Aja’s version of The Hills Have Eyes and again live through what is probably the most terrifying ordeal ever faced by a celluloid family.

The trailer attack.  God.  All I have to say is – kudos on performances from Aaron StanfordVinessa ShawEmilie de Ravin, and Dan Byrd.  After all, special effects help flesh out a movie, to make it more real, but without the blood, sweat, and fears of its cast, a horror film is little more than gore.

The horrors this family faces are completely astounding and only surpassed by their drive, their will to survive.

hhe_1All of this, all of these things, these feelings, these emotions, this reaction – in essence, it means Aja has made a masterpiece of horror.  True horror.  Not of the teen scream variety.  This is a film for adults about the horror of reality.

Aja’s tapped into the very nerve of what terrifies an audience and he manipulates it to the fullest extent possible, utilizing every tool in his toolkit to ratchet it up until you can barely take it.  Effects crew on the film included the genius of Greg Nicotero (GREG NICOTERO!!), CGI-a-plenty, true blue cinematic fakes, 1-shot real deal car crashes, and foam latex character design galore.

What I’m saying is that The Hills Have Eyes is no joy ride.  You want to be scared?  Fine.  The Hills Have Eyes is the film is for you.  Just be careful what you ask for because Aja will give it to you – in freakin’ spades.

hhe_5

Trailer:

M.I.A. releases new song, set to release new album

On the brink of a new album, M.I.A. has released the single, “Bring The Noize”. The new release, titled MATANGI, is a follow-up to the 2010 album, Maya. The album failed to reach the success of the great Kala, which was released another three years earlier in 2007 (“Paper Planes” anyone?). The multi-talented British artist seems to have dabbed her toes in every genre surrounding a drum machine, and she kills it for the most part.

The song is aggressive from the get-go, and it blends traditional Middle-Eastern singing with a few drones. That’s before the song breaks into a chopped and jumpy combination of vocal splices. She uses her voice are a drum beat that oddly reminds me the “Otis” off of Watch The Throne last year. The difference is that this song is way closer to a trap song than “Otis”.

Her rapping is quite typical, but in M.I.A. fashion. She touches on telling people off, her heritage, and how far she has come. Most of the time I have to laugh at musicians when they mention this, but she has my fullest respect when she talks about her success. Kala and Maya are chart toppers, and a British Female with Tamil decent who has broken into the American music market is remarkable. I’ll give you an idea to how difficult that is, and the only other successful person of Tamil decent in American entertainment is Aziz Ansari. Huge respect for M.I.A.

Her videos as well is semi-controversial. She makes light of a few topics like religion, and life in India, but in a way that’s respectable. Her contrast between the outside of the venue with it’s dusty and bleak roads compared to the indoor club is quite creative. I’ve always enjoyed the cultural aspect behind M.I.A. videos, and even if in the end they’re for pure entertainment, I like to think there’s a deeper meaning behind them.

M.I.A. always has a few tricks up her sleeve, with a great closer that separates itself from the rest of the track. It’s slower, but still retains the energy found in the hard hitting chorus and verses. The gold background of the music video gives me full reason to believe that it’s a section that will lead into another track. Not to mention it’s one of the best parts of the song. It’s cut time beat of the drum is so minimal, but it adds the effect of the song growing even if it’s not. The native Indian influence that is found on so many M.I.A. tracks shines again on the closing section of the song.

It’s reasons like this that makes 2013 such a great year so far. Knowing that new M.I.A. is coming gets me fired up for the summer, and fall, and winter. Make that the whole year. Make that all of 2013, and the albums released before today. So much music has come out this year that stands out to me, it’s a shame knowing that 2014 is around the corner. Who knows, maybe a new Avalanches album could be in the works? Nonetheless, check out “Bring The Noize” below.

 

The Expatriate has been Erased

Screen-Shot-2013-02-28-at-4.38.12-PM-1024x430

Ex-CIA operatives.  Wiley and resourceful teenagers.  Foreign locales and exotic women.  An international conspiracy with high reaching implications.  How on Earth did this Aaron Eckhart action thriller go so totally and completely off the rails?

Directed by Philipp Stölzl (North Face, Young Goethe in Love), Erased begins with the central character of Ben Logan (Eckhart) having a sort of typical morning.  He’s fumbling about in his apartment, doing his best to sort breakfast for himself and his teenage daughter, Amy (Liano Liberato).

erased01It’s clear from the moment you see her, the way she looks at him, the relationship between father and daughter is strained.  I like that the sequence is shot in the confines of a kitchen, a place where Ben is clearly out of his element; a fact demonstrated by his inability to operate little more than the toaster.  It puts his daughter in a position of ability, easily showing the character to be competent in ways her father is not.  In a way, this sequence shows you everything you need to know about both characters in an efficient, if not overly economical, fashion.

Here they are.  They barely know each other.  Despite this, Logan is trying to care for his daughter by making her erased03breakfast.  Okay, so it’s just toast and juice, but yes, I think it could qualify as breakfast.  And then there’s Amy.  She’s disgusted by his too-little-too-late attempts at being a father and she’s not afraid to show it.

As Logan’s day progresses, several key elements are seeded by the filmmakers to add a bit of originality to what unfortunately nonetheless results lackluster core plot.  Logan is an expatriate.  He is working as a kind of engineer for the Halgate company located in Brussels.  As he demonstrates some serious flaws in a security system purportedly created by Halgate, a question arises over the patent ownership.  Without it, the secrets of the system aren’t exactly safe – a fact that stands to completely ruin their reputation.

This whole sequence is done rather shoddily.  It’s clear the intent is to put Logan into a situation early on where his character and moral compass are being tested if not just blatantly questioned.  It’s probably meant to provide a little foreshadowing.  It’s unfortunate the result is rather tepid.  As Logan relays this supposedly critical information to his supervisor, he’s trying to rush off.  His daughter is in a photographic essay contest that evening.  He can’t be late.

Okay, but he ends up being late and missing everything.  Again.  No surprise there.  This is a man for whom work has always come first.  Amy’s won the photographic essay contest to the tune of a cool €250.  On the way home, Logan shares some sort of snack with his daughter only, it contains peanuts.  Amy’s allergic to freaking peanuts, guy.  A fact he might have known had he been around … or paying attention to anything Amy says to him.  Ever.

"THE EXPATRIATE"He rushes her to the hospital where they spend the night ensuring the danger has passed.  There’s something about the way Aaron Eckhart’s body looks splayed across three, rigidly uncomfortable looking hospital chairs.  If you’ve spent any time in a hospital you’ll relate to my intrigue.  You see, there’s just no sleeping in any kind of hospital room in any kind of chair.  So, immediately, as Logan lays there, looking as though he is sound asleep, I’m wondering about this guy.

Who is he and why can he sleep in a hospital?  Now this, my friends, is a man with a secret.

At 6.30 in the morning, he begins receiving text messages and phone calls from work.  Apparently, there’s been a work emergency.  With Amy in tow, Logan rolls over to the Halgate offices to check in.  No one’s there.  The place is gutted.  Everything has been (cue dark, brooding music) erased.

As Logan begins trying to piece together what’s happened, his first stop is the main office.  No one there has ever heard of him, or the building where he worked.  There is no record of him ever receiving so much as a paycheck or having ever filled out an application.  It gets worse.  His Blackberry has been tampered with and no longer contains any contact info.  Is nothing holy?

Fearing the worst, Logan continues to make inquiries throughout Brussels.  No one knows him.  His bank account is empty and shows no sign of activity.  As Amy erased02realizes the €250 may actually come in handy, a man approaches them in the bank and takes them hostage.  It’s clear his intent is to clean the slate.  But why?  What does Logan know?  Who is the assailant working for?  Is there anyone, even his ex-partner Anna (played by Olga Kurylenko), that he can trust?

It’s true you will probably see every plot curve coming.  After all, Erased is nothing if not derivative.  And no, I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing. But it’s a storyteller’s, and by extension a filmmaker’s, job to make ideas better, to expand on them.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

It’s also true that for an actor of Eckhart’s caliber you may feel a bit disappointed by his performance as Logan.  He holds his own during the film’s solid action sequences only to phone it in during any given tête-à-tête.

Kurylenko, who is fresh from her role as Juila in Oblivion, comes out strong in Erased serving up some serious Cold War dishiness.  It’s regrettable that her performance ends on a flat note in the puddle of this muddy plot.

I’m also here to tell you there is an upside to Erased.

The action sequences are crisp and intelligible, by which I mean they tell us something about Logan’s character and they’re shot in a way that audiences will actually be able to see what’s happening.  Action films can be incredibly beautiful when well executed.  And while Erased is no Enter the Dragon, or Die Hard, or The Killer, it’s the film’s action that will have people turning out to see it.

Erased-2011-Movie-Poster

 

Is Iron Man 3 the end of the road?

poster

Picking up where The Avengers left off, Iron Man 3 finds Tony Stark in the clutches of post-traumatic stress from which he is often physically, emotionally debilitated.  Pepper Potts has moved into Tony’s Malibu mansion and it’s clear Tony is struggling in the aftermath of the events that took place in New York.  But, when a new threat arises in the shape of The Mandarin, everything Tony holds dear will be put in the balance.  Will he be up to the Mandarin’s challenge or is this the end for Iron Man?

Iron-Man-3-Mandarin1Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black and stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Pots, Don Cheadle as War Machine/Rhodes, Guy Pearce as Killian, Jon Favreau as Happy, and Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin.

After the first two installments of the Iron Man franchise, it’s clear that everyone attached is going to bring a high caliber energy and polish to future projects.  So, when the Iron Man 3 begins to roll, everyone in the audience has a set of standards and expectations.

I’m no different.

After Iron Man was released, I saw it several times in the theater.  I was so intoxicated by the origin story and just completely blown away by the look and spectacle of it.

This was a super hero film unlike any other up to that time.  The protagonist was a real man, flawed by his arrogance, laziness, and privilege.  Forced to fight for his life, Stark faces some serious demons and comes out the other side of it a changed man.

As Tony struggles with PTSD in Iron Man 3, there is a sense of returning to some of the original themes of internal struggle and the examination of personal responsibility.ironMan_tonyStark

I doubt anyone will argue that Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t come a million miles from his Less Than Zero days.  But, as Tony Stark it’s clear that Downey Jr. has found a home.  Everything the man does exudes a sort of eccentricity and softness that is well-suited to the man behind the iron mask.

With the introduction of Killian (Pearce) and the Mandarin (Kingsley), the terrorism vein of the Iron Man milieu is renewed or solidified.  My gripe here is that Guy Pearce, whose overacting has marred several of his more recent projects including PrometheusLockout, and The King’s Speech, is immediately recognizable.  There are actors that disappear into their roles and completely embody the character they’re playing.  Then, there’s Guy Pearce.  He doesn’t really shine until the last ten minutes of the film when he’s getting a beat down.  Until then, if you’re like me, you’ll just have to grit your teeth and bare it when he’s onscreen.

ironMan_killianBen Kingsley, on the other hand, proves again that he is a consummate performer.  As the Mandarin, he is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious.  As the plot’s central threat, you’d think he’d have more screen time but his absence is equally as important in an effort to create fear and dread, the imminent sense of danger from which Tony Stark cannot escape.

It’s true that Iron Man 3 meanders a bit, but I don’t think fans of the franchise are going to mind being in a theater with Stark, Pepper Pots, and the rest of their favorite characters for 130 minutes.  I didn’t, and I have a low tolerance for films that run long without good cause.  There are, in my opinion, several scenes that could have been excised with little to no need to rework the remainder of the film for clarity or continuity’s sake.  I digress.  Consider it getting your money’s worth – after all, it’s not as if you’re going to be bored.  Iron Man 3 is jam packed with the Marvel-requisite amount of action.

The real surprise of Iron Man 3 is Pepper Pots.  What the filmmakers have done this time around in developing her role really gives the film, and the franchise as a result, a place to go.  Pepper-Potts-Suiting-UpWithout running the risk of giving away too many spoilers, it’s true that Pepper’s role is to save Tony – metaphorically and literally.  For the first time, you will get to see a woman wear the suit of Iron Man – repeatedly – and it’s freaking awesome.

As Pepper, Gwyneth Paltrow (this year’s ‘most beautiful‘) turns in a performance that is brutally strong and fiercely willed without sacrificing her femininity.  The filmmaker’s have helped create a character that is intelligent, beautiful, resourceful, and willing to fight for what she loves.  I think it’s true that Pots emerges as the true heroine of Iron Man 3, which is a delight.

Iron Man 3 feels like an ending, despite the words “Tony Stark will return” being displayed in grand James Bond fashion at the very end of the title credits.  Be sure to stick around for it, and for the short scene between Stark and Bruce Banner that will roll after the credits.

Official site: Iron Man 3

Check out the Iron Man mash-up by Mike Relm

iron-man-3-final-poster-clean

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the Real Heavyweight of Pain & Gain

pain-and-gain

Three bodybuilding aficionados get in over their heads when their reach exceeds their grasp in Pain & Gain, the 2013 action-crime film from director Michael Bay.  The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Daniel LugoDwayne Johnson as Paul Doyle, Anthony Mackie as Adrian, and Tony Shalhoub as Victor Kershaw and is based a series of events that unfolded in Miami-Dade county from 1994 to 1995.

Pain & Gain is going to be a tough sell.  I get that.  So, don’t think of this as me trying to get you to see the film.  In fact, I’m not telling you not to see it either.  For me, Pain & Gain is like something that happened to me.  That’s it.

First off, what in the hell does Michael Bay know about dark comedy?  Dark comedy, when it’s done correctly, has a tendency topain-and-gain 02 happen outside the mainstream.  There’s a reason for that – it’s incredibly difficult to pull off since most of it is tongue in cheek, dry, and relies on the audience being in on the joke.  Think HeathersThe Big Lebowski.  Think Fargo.

Mainstream America doesn’t seem to willingly embrace it as a genre.  Adding Marky Mark, Rob Corddry, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix is only going to get you so far with your target audience.  The addition of the hilariously dry Rebel Wilson and Ken Jeong as ancillary characters is little more than a bandage for a film that begins to bleed out after the opening sequence in which Daniel Lugo, in June of 1995, attempts to evade imminent capture for his crimes.

With a crime drama – one that purports to be based on true events – I immediately question if any attempt at dark comedy is even remotely appropriate.  People lost their lives at the hands of the three men portrayed in Pain & Gain.  Any attempt by the screenwriters and director Michael Bay to make the audience sympathetic to Lugo, Doyle, and Adrian is dicey from a moral standpoint, yes.  But, what does it say about us that we want to pay to see this subject matter being portrayed on the screen?

It’s complicated.  So very, very complicated.

mark-wahlberg-pain-and-gain-3As a comedy, Pain & Gain is more or less a fail.  That’s not to say there aren’t funny moments, but not enough to carry the film.  As a crime drama, on the other hand, Pain & Gain has some legs.

I’m not one to say anything bad about Dwayne Johnson.  I am a Rock fan from the way back days, and he shines in Pain & Gain.  No, I’m not presenting a bias, I swear.  The man gives one of his most complicated performances as the cocaine-addicted ex-con who, after finding Jesus and getting sober, makes the unfortunate mistake of falling in with a guy like Daniel Lugo.  Johnson’s charismatic performance is reason enough to see Pain & Gain.

Much of what happens in Pain & Gain is so depressingly appalling that I actually find myself feeling a surge of guilt when one of Bay’s signature explosions takes place and I enjoy it.  After all, the Sun Gym Gang has just attempted to blow up Victor Kershaw in his BMW after detaining, torturing, and effectively stealing most of the man’s possessions.

This is no time to smile, but, there’s something about the way Bay frames Wahlberg, Johnson, and Mackie, walking – in glorious slow motion – away from the ferocious blast they’ve just caused.  Bay loves to blow sh*t up almost as much as he finds homophobia to be un-freaking-believably hilarious.

Is Bay being gratuitous, or did it really happen that way?

You can read the three part piece done by Pete Collins‘ for the Miami New Times back in 2000 (links provided below) and draw your own conclusions.  This saves me from providing too much information that would ultimately lead to spoilers for those of you wanting to see the film.

Regardless, the takeaway is this: never, ever, ever assume a film that says it’s based on true events is telling you the whole story, complete and unedited.  It’s almost always necessary to change events, names, combine characters or exclude them entirely.  This is especially true for Pain & Gain.

Official site: Pain & Gain

Related: Read the Pete Collins’ articles upon which Pain & Gain is based - Part 1Part 2Part 3

 

Brace Yourself for G.I. Joe: Retaliation

When the G.I. Joes are framed for treason by a man posing as the POTUS, it’s up to Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and what remains of the crew to restore their good name while delivering some justice in the process.

Directed by Jon M. ChuG.I. Joe: Retaliation is the 2013 sequel to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and also stars Bruce WillisChanning TatumRay ParkJonathan Pryce, and Lee Byung-hun.

gi-joe-retaliation-pict06No T, no shade - G.I. Joe: Retaliation is worth the price of admission.  Maybe not evening, or IMAX, or 3-D admission, but a matinee?  Absolutely!

On all fronts, director Jon M. Chu’s sequel delivers.  Action?  Hell ya.  Comedy?  Check.  In fact, Tatum and Johnson have a great onscreen chemistry, one that will have you wanting to see the pair again in other films.  Explosions?  In spades.  Exciting and crazy weaponry?  You bet.  Good looking eye candy in nearly every frame?  Yes: The Rock!  Yes: Channing Tatum!  Yes: Adrianne Palicki!  Yes: Lee Byung-hun!

In fact, the only way you’re going to have a bad time with G.I. Joe: Retaliation is if you’ve either walked into the wrong theater, rented the wrong DVD, or come with an impossible set of expectations.  Nearly everyone involved in G.I. Joe: Retaliation has done what they can to ensure you have a good time and that you leave feeling entertained.  This isn’t rocket science – it’s science-fiction action.

wallpaper

You see, by now, you should have realized that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is based on a set of popular children’s toys that originated in the 1960′s and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1980′s when the franchise came to television in the form of an animated series: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.  That’s what brought me, as a young girl, to the action figures and the milieu of G.I. Joe.

It was still somewhat of a rarity at the time to see strong female characters on television, even in an animated series.  Lady Jaye (played by Adrianne Palicki in the film) was a certifiable bad ass – one any formative young girl could look up to.   That she not only makes an appearance in G.I. Joe: Retaliation but has a prominent role is absolutely freakin’ awesome.

The sound engineering in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is strikingly good and the action sequences in the film are noteworthy.  I often wax poetic about the importance of action to the plot of the film, and in the case of G.I. Joe: Retaliation I feel we have a good example of how strong action sequences can serve the story and help reveal who the characters truly are.

2012_gi_joe_retaliation_012

Sure, the action can be over the top – a sequence in which Jinx and Snake Eyes attempt to abscond with the unconscious body of Storm Shadow comes to mind – but there is very little superfluous fighting or action in the film.

In a film billing itself as science-fiction action, you want to look at every moment of violence or action and ask if they serve a purpose.  Often times, they don’t.  To be a truly great action film, it’s simply not enough to throw your characters into every possible challenge to test them physically or mentally.  You need to show that there are stakes, that there are risks, and at the end of it, your characters need to have grown or learned some lesson.

I’m smiling as I realize I’m about to write that in the case of G.I. Joe: Retaliation the characters don’t really seem to learn anything that they didn’t already know:  they are real American heroes and they kick serious ass.  Yes, that means that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is not a truly great action film, but that doesn’t mean it can’t entertain you.

Official site: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

37851354759102-gijoe2_1sheet_online

Follow us on Facebook Twitter Tumblr Pinterest and Google +

Don’t Fall for Olympus Has Fallen

olympusHasFallen1

What would happen if terrorists were able to do the unthinkable, the seemingly impossible, and take down the White House?  That’s the question posed in director Antoine Fuqua‘s (Training Day) film Olympus Has Fallen.

Olympus Has Fallen sports a sterling ensemble cast with Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Asher, Morgan Freeman as Speaker of the House Trumbull, Angela Bassett as Lynne Jacobs (head of the Secret Service), Melissa Leo as Defense Secretary McMillan, Radha Mitchell as Leah Banning, and Dylan McDermott as Dave Forbes.

The one thing Olympus Has Fallen has working for it is its cast.  I’m not going to lie, I’m always going to go see a Morgan Freeman film.  Adding Radha Mitchell and Dylan McDermott to the mix is only ensuring I’ll see that film over its opening weekend.

I’m not crazy about the plot of Olympus Has Fallen or the insane and pointless amount of violence that goes beyond the gratuitous into its own special realm of WTF.  I’m also not crazy about the fact that one man, against insurmountable odds, is able to neutralize what our entire military force cannot.  I think beyond being ludicrous, it sets a sort of unbelievable Die-Hard-esque bar that, well, frankly, has been done before … by Die Hard … and done better, at that.

Everything about Olympus Has Fallen wants you to be a patriot, as if the simple, lazy act of sitting in a darkened room watching a film for 2 hours is done in service to your country.  But I’m not buying.

I hated the score – with it’s sweeping orchestral false majesty.  I hated the premise.  I hated the action – so much, so fast that it hinders the plot instead of serving it by raising the stakes and therefore building tension.  I hated the good guys.  I hated the bad guys. I hated Melissa Leo reciting the pledge of allegiance while being dragged down the hall by terrorists.

I mean … seriously?

olympusHasFallen2

Did I miss the swag giveaway for opening weekend?  Which, I’m assuming, was an Olympus Has Fallen logo-emblazoned barf bag.

Look.  I love action films.  Give me John Woo, Richard Donner, Sam Raimi.  Hell, I’ll even take James Cameron.  Director Antoine Fuqua seems to have forgotten that action serves a purpose, it has meaning, and can even be beautiful (in its own way).  It’s not meant to beat the audience over the head until they are numb to even the most spectacular stunt.

The brainless blood bath that is Olympus Has Fallen fails to entertain or excite.  There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before and, sadly, it’s another in a growing line of disappointing outings for Gerard Butler.

Official site: Olympus Has Fallen

Revenge Found at the End of Dead Man Down, but for Whom?

divider

Director Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) hits American screens with his debut Dead Man Down.  Starring Colin Farrell as Victor, Noomi Rapace as Beatrice, and Terrence Howard as Alphonse Hoyt, Dead Man Down is languid look at the human desire to seek revenge.

deadManDown_1

After his daughter and wife are killed by a local gang looking to push the residents of their apartment building out, Victor (Farrell) – an ex-Hungarian soldier turned engineer – concocts an elaborate scheme to make the men responsible pay.  All of them.

One night, while he carries out one of the many revenge killings in the film, a tenant across from his apartment, Beatrice (Rapace), witnesses the act.

Herself a victim of a senseless crime, having been struck by a drunk driver and her face permanently disfigured, Beatrice uses a video of the murder as leverage.  If Victor agrees to kill the man responsible for her injuries, she won’t report the murder to the police, leaving Victor free to continue his own vengeful quest.  The two become uneasy allies in their mutually grim endeavors.  Eventually, their twisted little partnership turns romantic.

deadManDown_2

In what is mostly a satisfying crime drama with strong outings from Farrell and Rapace, Dead Man Down is a relatively boilerplate revenge venture.  Farrell’s performance is subdued with a quiet poise more befitting the character than Farrell’s typical style.  It’s this quietness that helps sell an otherwise flat Victor.  Rapace does her best to create a multi-layered character in the visage of the fragile and complex Beatrice.

Director Oplev takes plenty of time to develop both characters, including a well-paced set up for the moral arguments behind the motivations of each. A wounded widow who has also lost his child, according to the ethos of Dead Man Down, has absolutely every right to seek revenge.  But what about Beatrice, who is still living and breathing despite chronic pain due to the reconstruction of her face?

deadManDown_3

Does Beatrice  have the “right” to want the man responsible for her injuries dead?  I mean, yes, she’s in pain and she’s permanently scarred, but even a disfigured Rapace manages to be beautiful.  It’s a tough sell and a dodgy line to skirt, after all Beatrice’s beauty comes from within and it isn’t until she reveals her vengeful intentions that she loses that beauty; becoming as ruthless and hard as Victor.  That the chronic pain the character suffers is underplayed only helps to feed into the rather superficial, existing body issues most women wrestle with.  Is that enough to kill a man?

I suppose if we were in a Quentin Tarantino film we wouldn’t be having this discussion.  For Tarantino, revenge is a kind of sport and getting some is everyone’s right.  But, then again, I’d like to think Tarantino wouldn’t have so completely botched the end of Dead Man Down to this extent.  To spend 90+ minutes carefully constructing this elaborate moral framework only to let it all go to Hell in the final moments is a disappointment in what is, otherwise, a fairly decent film.

I’m still scratching my head over it.  You will be, too.

deadManDown_4

divider

Red Band HD Trailer:

divider

Featurette:

divider

Interviews with Noomi Rapace, Colin Farrell, and Terrence Howard:

divider

Official site: Dead Man Down

On Twitter: #DeadManDown

divider

A$AP Rocky continues to find his groove on Long.Live.A$AP

Is Tom Cruise a reach as Jack Reacher?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,012 other followers