Dead Man Down (2013)
Dead Man Down is a tale about grief, pain, and especially revenge. The film is a bit of a puzzle. I especially enjoy movies that make you think and figure things out for yourself instead of spelling it all out for you. This story pieces itself together little by little as events unfold and eventually everything becomes clear. By doing this, the movie keeps your attention because you are focused on what will happen next.
Although the movie was filmed in New York, it has a foreign independent movie feel to it. This is not only because there are a number of foreign actors and actresses in the film, but because the whole movie has an almost exotic feel to it. Instead of focusing on landmarks to tell the viewers where the story is taking place, this movie almost does the opposite. You can tell that it takes place in a big city, but the filmmakers decided to film in less obvious parts of the city. Instead of getting big helicopter views, they give you a view from a rooftop or a balcony. It seems like the story is intentionally confined to a smaller area. Maybe this makes it easier for people all around the world to believe that what is happening in the film could actually be happening in their home town. It is just an interesting aspect of filmmaking that I have never thought of before.
I like Colin Farrell but I am always a little leery of his movies because they are usually hit or miss. Lately he has been choosing his characters a little more wisely (Seven Psychopaths (2012), Total Recall (2012), Horrible Bosses (2011)) and this movie was no exception. His character is a no-nonsense tough guy and he plays the part well.
Terrence Howard brings a lot of energy and charisma to the film. He has a very Denzel Washington-like way of taking over the scenes that he is in and making his presence known. I think that this is his best role since The Brave One (2007).
After watching her delicate performance in the movie, Noomi Rapace has convinced me that I should check out her Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (2010) that she is most known for. Her character in Dead Man Down seemed very genuine.
Armand Assante has basically a cameo appearance. I was a little bummed that he wasn’t in more of the movie.
The movie was a little drawn out at times. Some of the action sequences seemed a little convenient. The story might be a little hard to follow if you’re not paying attention. But, overall it was an entertaining and unique film.
I rate this movie a 7.5 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
Clever, yet cheesy and intriguing artistic special effects give Dredd a late 1980s or early 90s feel. This is fitting and obviously intentional because Dredd (2012) is sort of a remake of Judge Dredd (1995). The distant future in Dredd (2012) feels similar to what filmmakers in the 80s and 90s thought the distant future would be like. So, in a sense, the movie takes you back in time but to their future.
The entire film seems to be a satire on the action movie era during the time when Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis ruled the genre. No acting skills are necessary, only gratuitous amounts of bloody, gory violence, corny one-liners, and an endless supply of bullets. Of course, the main characters are severely outnumbered and always appear to be bulletproof, while countless numbers of bad guys get obliterated. It is absolutely a popcorn movie.
It was mildly humorous, but quite entertaining throughout to watch a movie that mocked it’s out genre. It’s almost as if the creators wanted to prove that they could do a better job at 80s and 90s filmmaking than the actual filmmakers of the 80s and 90s. Adding a little twist to that concept, the movie went back and forth between cheap special effects and present day awesome special effects.
The cheap technology was used during most of the very gruesome scenes and as a result, those scenes were easier for the viewer to watch because the overuse of blood and gore would make the scene look pretty fake. There was the occasional scene that looked awfully realistic and it would sort of sneak up on you.
The main character (Judge Dredd) was played by Karl Urban, but it didn’t really matter because he wore a mask the entire movie and you never saw his face. Anybody could have been under that mask. Urban did supply his character with a high-quality tough guy voice, to his credit. Have you ever heard of the guy though? Me neither. He is a character actor whom I would recognize, but has never been important enough to remember.
I think that Dredd is worth watching as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. Don’t expect much and you might be pleasantly surprised. It’s not great, but it is enjoyable.
I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.