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Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard

Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev

Written by: J. H. Wyman

Parental guidance: Violence, coarse language

Running time: 110 minutes

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

There’s a distinctly European feel to Dead Man Down, a thriller directed by Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev, starring Irish-born Colin Farrell and Swedish-Spanish ingénue Noomi Rapace, and set in a New York City that feels cut off from its natural native texture of street life, glamour and comical cabbies. It’s a story about two lost people seeking revenge in different, violent ways and struggling through the gloom of life’s disappointments. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear the whole thing was translated from the Swedish; in fact, some of the dialogue is in French with English subtitles.

The movie reunites Oplev and Rapace from the original film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and they bring with it some of the same Nordic chill, and some of the same sense of hopeless fate. It’s a film where Rapace’s character admits that she can’t smile because it makes her face hurt.

She plays Rebecca, a pretty beautician who’s not so pretty any more since a car accident scarred the left side of her face. The neighbourhood kids call her “monster.” Rebecca lives with her mother (French star Isabelle Huppert) who doesn’t have much to do with the movie but adds a domestic note: maman bakes cookies, hands them to visitors and — in one of those minuscule details that helped stretch the Dragon Tattoo novels to impossible length — later asks for the Tupperware to be returned.

Rebecca et mere live in an apartment with a view of their neighbour Victor (Farrell), a taciturn tough guy who works for a mobster named Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard.) Hoyt is involved in the drug trade, although the film’s attempts at evoking the hip-hop culture of guns, cocaine and danger look like something copied from TV. In a violent showdown, we learn — as befits the international tone of the production — that Alphonse’s rival has an English accent. “You are not sanctioned to kill me,” he protests, as persnickety as a lord. After you, Alphonse.

But something even stranger is going on: someone is knocking off Alphonse’s gang members and leaving cryptic notes (“719. Now you realize”) and little squares from a photograph that Alphonse is slowly assembling like a jigsaw puzzle. A mystery man is out to get him, and when Rebecca notices that her cute, across-the-courtyard neighbour recently strangled someone to death, we get a good idea who. Having a murderous neighbour, which was such a burden in Rear Window, is a blessing to Rebecca, who is looking for someone who can do a little assassination job: to knock off the drunk driver who caused the car accident that disfigured her.

This throws Rebecca and Victor into an unhappy partnership, although one with enough affection that she gives him her lucky rabbit’s foot (“it’s chartreuse,” she instructs him.) He’s on a mission of vengeance himself, something to do with his late wife and daughter and a background as a Hungarian engineer with military training. Imagine if Keyser Soze had emigrated from The Usual Suspects into something by the Hughes Brothers during their Stockholm period.

Farrell and Rapace are well suited, two quiet performers who

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Comment by stokerphantom on March 14, 2013 at 12:16am


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