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Bad Movie Tuesday: Dead Man Down

March 12, 2013

Dead Man Down movie Poster

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Dead Man Down feels like a direct to DVD action film that should be airing at 2:00 AM on some cable channel. The story centers around a broken man who lost his family and is now getting revenge on the gangsters who did it. Throw in a facially scarred woman who is blackmailing him and you have a jumbled mess mixed with lots of squinting. The movie has a European feel full of doom, dread and gloom but it doesn’t mix well with the hackneyed script. Characters pop in and out, you can’t understand anything that comes out of Armand Assante’s mouth and a beer can is used as a bomb which gives new meaning to “this buds for you.” I sat in the theater amazed at what I was watching. Every single one of these actors are fantastic yet the movie is so incomprehensible you are left confused, frustrated and checking your watch every other minute.

Dead Man Down Noomi

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The first inkling I had that Dead Man Down would be gracing Bad Movie Tuesday is when I found out the WWE helped produce this film. Every single WWE film has the same Modus operandi. Poorly written, oddly edited and well cast. WWE stormed out of the gate with the fantastic (for what it was) Rundown. That film was directed by Peter Berg and has all the right kinds of crazy. However, since then they’ve only had one decent sized hit. The Marine failed at the box office but BLEW up on DVD ($30 million in first two months) Since then See No Evil, Condemned, Marine 2, Marine 3, 12 Rounds, The Chaperone, Behind Enemy Lines 2 & 3 have all tanked like a Sherman. Recently, WWE is making an effort to make better cinema. However, their plan seems to be casting Oscar winners (Halle Berry, F. Murray Abraham) to star in poorly written movies like The Call. Have you watched this trailer? It makes you say “Uff da.”

The call Halle Berry

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It is mind boggling that this film is from the same man who directed Noomi in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo seriesThose films were full of danger, suspense and wonderful performances. I wonder if the creators watched In Bruges, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Hustle & Flow, Devils Double or Tamara Drewe then decided to throw out everything good about those performances. Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper and Terrence Howard are all fantastic actors who are given nothing to do. They squint, mope, glower and talk in silly accents. It is frustrating to watch when talent is underutilized because of a weak script and odd direction. I bet they had to shoot this film quick because of the actor’s salaries. So, luxuries such as set design, costuming and plot went out of the window. The key to tangled web movies involving double crosses, murder and betrayal is allowing it to unfold in a deliberate manner that is not sloppily edited. Everything about DMD is choppy so none of it works.

Dead Man Down Terrence Howard

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For instance, you can tell the budgetary constraints with Dominic Cooper’s costuming and plot line.  The film takes place over the course of a month (I think) and Cooper only wears three outfits. His role is of a thug with a heart of gold hunting Farrell’s trail. The problem is he is rarely on-screen so the whole thing seems forced to an unearned fruition. You don’t care about his relationship with Farrell because there is no time for it. A great example is in the heat of an action scene Cooper yells to Farrell “You are my son’s Godfather!” He says this line and I went “huh?” The creators mistook forced dialogue for earned plot and it came back to haunt them.

I know how the film went bad.  A foreign director, a unreliable script, short shooting schedule and funding by World Wrestling Entertainment all combined to make a funky film. It is melodramatic where it should be understated.It tells when it should show. It features the weirdest subplot involving a drunk driver and facial scars ever shown on-screen…..

Dead Man Down Noomi Rapace

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Don’t watch Dead Man Down. Watch the original Dragon Tattoo or In Bruges instead. WWE will figure it out eventually but until it does stick to watching The Rundown or Walking Tall.

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