Dead Man Down
Original Release: March 08, 2013 (USA)
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Written by: J.H. Wyman
Produced by: Neal H. Moritz , J.H. Wyman
Running Time: 118 minutes
Box Office: N/A
Victor (Colin Farrell), a rising gangland player, has infiltrated the crime empire run by the ruthless Alphonse (Terrence Howard), with the single purpose of making Alphonse pay for destroying his once happy life. As he orchestrates his vengeance from his high-rise home, Victor watches and is watched by Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a mysterious woman who lives in the apartment across from his. Beneath her fragile surface, she seethes with a rage of her own.
Cast & CharactersColin Farrell (Victor), Noomi Rapace (Beatrice Louzon), Terrence Howard (Alphonse), Dominic Cooper (Darcy), Isabelle Huppert (Valentine Louzon), Luis Da Silva Jr. (Terry), Stu Bennett (Kilroy), Franky G (Luco), Declan Mulvey (Goff), John Cenatiempo (Charles), Roy James Wilson (Blotto), Stephen Hill (Roland)
Production Notes"Dead Man Down" was penned by screenwriter by J.H. Wyman, who percolated for six years as the complexities of the story and characters came together. "Joel is a very meticulous writer," says producer Reid Shane, a partner with Wyman in Frequency Films "He wouldn't release this script until he had all the intricacies of the characters worked out completely. Victor is a man of mystery. We aren't sure whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. He's done some terrible things. And Beatrice is very strange in her own way. They go off in a completely different direction than you expect." Selecting a director for such unusual material was the subject of much discussion for Marmur and his associates, but they always came back to the same name: Niels Arden Oplev, the Danish-born director who was catapulted to international fame in 2009 by the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. "We all really loved his work on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," says executive producer Ori Marmur. "He brought a great look and sensibility and style to that film, as well as getting amazing performances from the actors. When we spoke with him about Dead Man Down, he had a clear and specific vision for this film, as well as great passion and enthusiasm for the script." "I read perhaps 250 scripts in two and a half years," says the director. "A handful seemed interesting, but the script for Dead Man Down was nearly perfect. Joel Wyman wrote a fantastic script, there's no question about that. It has an enormous number of twists and turns. Just when you think you know something, something else happens that changes everything."
Oplev's first choice for Victor was the Irish actor Colin Farrell. "I met him in New York, and I immediately recognized his enormous dedication to doing something different with the material. He has an unusual emotional depth, and the kind of odd nuances and sensitivity that I was looking for in this character." In his initial discussions with the filmmakers, Farrell impressed them with his sensitive take on tough-guy Victor. "He saw clearly that Victor is a real person, not just an action hero," says the director. "Victor's journey takes him from near total darkness into the light. He has the capacity for tough urban combat. He's driven by revenge to kill. But in this film, killing comes with a price". Oplev was primed to work with Rapace again after the success of their first feature and his suggestion to cast her as Beatrice was met with enthusiasm by the film's producers. "Obviously, she already had a great relationship with Niels," says Marmur. "We were thrilled when we sent her the script and she immediately responded to it."
I think our energies are quite similar in the sense that we never stop. We were immersed in Victor and Beatrice's world, living, breathing and thinking it. He's so sensitive and focused and committed, but wide open, without protection. That's the most beautiful thing you can experience as an actor. "When I heard that Niels was attached to this movie, it seemed too good to be true. We have an interesting chemistry. He knows I try to go as far as I can into it. He also knows that I'm quite stubborn in my opinions about my characters. He's like a hand grenade - very passionate and with a strong temper. His commitment is 150 percent and he can't compromise. It's not a choice - he doesn't have that filter. (Noomi Rapace)"Noomi is amazing to work with," says Farrell. "She's incredibly bright, insightful and bold. She's got a kind of emotional articulacy that challenges you as an actor in the loveliest way. Her interpretation of Beatrice is so specific and poetic. To stand across from her and do the work was an absolute joy." The pair rehearsed for just three days in Los Angeles. "It was short, but it seemed like we got a fortnight's worth of material out of it," says Farrell. "Joel Wyman, Niels, Noomi and I went through it page by page. Niels had his opinions, Noomi had hers and I had mine. Joel sat back and listened, because all his opinions were already in the script. I don't know that we made it better, but we gave it a more personal perspective in certain ways." "This script hit me straight in the heart," says Rapace. "I grew up loving movies like True Romance and Natural Born Killers about twisted, deeply connected relationships between people on the edge. For me, this is a similar story, brutal and violent, but with a light inside. It's been many, many years since I have seen anything like it. We've got tough guys with lots of tattoos and guns and explosions and all that gritty, sexy roughness. But the heart of this movie is the emotion. The interaction between those two worlds is electric." Oplev sees Dead Man Down as a natural extension of his earlier work, an action- packed thriller with riveting characters that strives to cross genre boundaries and appeal to a wide audience. "It dares to be commercial, yet at the same time it has a quality in its artistic expression that transcends that," he says. "The violence and action are not there just to look good. It's there for a reason. These are real living, breathing characters who interact and interrelate and there's a story to each of the relationships in the film. We have made, in many ways, a classic old-school thriller with an original love story at the heart of it.
"Dead Man Down" released US theaters in March 2013 to mostly negative reviews due to its absurd plot twists and a slack pace. The New York Times called the film a "turkey", adding "Thereís talent in "Dead Man Down" - you laugh, but you also keep watching - even if itís unclear whether J. H. Wyman wrote the script with his tongue wedged deep in his cheek, or if Mr. Oplev inadvertently pushed the movie to the brink of comedy." According to Reelviews, "There are two obvious problems. The first is that the dialogue is occasionally awkward and sometimes embarrassing. The other is that, after spending roughly 90 minutes in slow-boil mode, Oplev lets loose with an orgy of violence and explosions that's out of character with everything leading up to it. It's a messy way to end things that will dissatisfy viewers expecting something a little more subtle and intelligent", adding that Rapace is "better here than in any of her other recent English-language roles".