The Horror Honeys: Even the Most Damaged Heart Can Be Mended

Even the Most Damaged Heart Can Be Mended

A Revenge Honey Review

Dead Man Down (2013)

I've often found that best revenge films are sometimes the most overlooked. When it comes to revenge films released on a mainstream level, either they are ridiculous and over-the-top Stallone nonsense (who I love, so shut up) or they were contenders in the Oscar race, like Prisoners. While Prisoners was easily, and rightfully, one of my highest rated films of 2013, there was another revenge film released that was fantastic on an entirely different level. That film was Niels Arden Oplev's Dead Man Down.

Now, I rarely put much stock in what other critics have to say when it comes to my movie watching, but after viewing Dead Man Down, I had to know just why this particular film slipped through the cinema cracks. I was genuinely shocked when I saw that Metacritic had scored it a 39/100. I guess this is just another case of me and mainstream critics having fuck all in common, but I digress.

The Plot: There are so many little intricacies and twists in the plot of this film, that I am going to stay as vague as possible. But (in my best trailer announcer voice), when the right-hand man of a violent New York City crime lord is blackmailed by a wounded woman seeking vengeance, will the potential for love overcome his own quest for revenge? Starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, and Terrance Howard, this tense and moody revenge/crime thriller is, like Prisoners, a portrayal of what can happen when your life becomes consumed by the desire for retribution.

"I know why you've waited so long. Why you haven't killed him. I think you're afraid that when it's over, it won't mend your heart."

Dead Man Down was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Apparently, he completely distanced himself from the American ad campaign for Dead Man, and watching the trailers, it's not hard to see why. The promos for this film are completely deceptive as to what kind of movie you're actually sitting down for; the trailers make the film look like Dragon Tattoo meets Scarface, which isn't remotely accurate. I'm quite confident I would have hated whatever version FilmDistrict and WWE were trying to lie about in the trailers.

Revenge Honey Note: I have heard more people than not straight up rage about WWE movies. And yes, I admit, the sheer notion of wrestlers PRODUCING movies puts me on edge too. But if you add Dead Man Down to my list of favorites this year, along with No One Lives, they've put out two exceptional films. So don't discount a movie just because WWE was behind it. Wait for a Horror Honey to TELL you it sucks.

Anyway. I will admit straight off that I have a massive soft spot for Colin Farrell. (And no, it's not my vagina, so don't even try.) Farrell is an astounding actor when given the right material, as he has proven with films like TigerlandA Home at the End of the World, Ondine, In Bruges, Saving Mr. Banks, and his hilarious part in Horrible Bosses. Dead Man Down is the perfect outlet for Farrell's weepy brown eyes and general broken-down, beaten senseless by the world air. He can switch from panicked desperation to focused determination at the flip of a switch and I love that about him. He's also a straight up, gun-firing, bone-crushing badass in this film, and what more can you ask for in a revenge film?

I just don't see a girl who ISN'T still beautiful. But maybe I'm partial.
Noomi Rapace, who I love equally, is kind of a wild card in this particular role. Her character is a woman who has been "badly" scared in a car accident thanks to a drunk driver, but to my eye and the eyes of those I watched the film with, her scars weren't that noticeable. But if you want to see The Revenge Honey rage, have a bunch of asshat kids throw rocks at girl covered in physical and emotional scars, and see how fast I advocate putting them all in a room and throwing rocks at THEM until they cry for their mommies. I may have cried during parts of this movie. The point here, is that while Rapace's character isn't necessarily the best written of the film, she elevates it exceptionally well, especially when she is in full-tilt revenge mode.

The supporting roles in Dead Man Down are quite good as well. Terrance Howard, who my film-watching buddy kept complaining seemed too nice to be a crime lord, was genuinely unlikable throughout the film. Additional performances from Isabelle Huppert, Dominic Cooper, and a small appearance from F. Murray Abraham ("That was not Mozart laughing, Father... that was GOD!") are all excellent in supporting scenes, especially Cooper, who after The Devil's Double should just be in everything.

Essentially, thanks to a horribly crappy ad campaign and critics that I maintain just didn't get it, I vote Dead Man Down for "Bum Rap of the Year." The film is gritty, yet elegantly shot, with mostly well-developped characters and one of the few revenge movies I've seen with a happy ending. And sometimes, the Revenge Honey needs a frigging happy ending goddamnit. My complaints about Noomi Rapace's makeup, distracting though they may be, really aren't enough to take this below a 4 1/2 for me, making it one of my favorite films of 2013.

Revenge Honey Stabby Points: 4 1/2 out of 5