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Review: Dead Man Down Is *So* Much More Than You’ve Been Led To Believe

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The One Where I’m Gay For Farrell. And Hot For Noomi. And Generally A Bit Confused. But Not About My Love For Dead Man Down. For My Love Is True.

Every once in a while you go and see a film that is nothing like you expected. Think about it. You saw the trailer. You know who’s in it, then…. Wha-? It goes right, left, anywhere but central. Anywhere you thought it was going.

Well, after trying to keep calm over JJ’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, I got a large cappuccino, and went into Dead Man Down.

After struggling to shake images of a space ship just…. falling.… I needed a fix of some hardcore shooting. Colin Farrell sexing people up, and shooting them in the face.

So, imagine my surprise. This is so much more than that. It’s a brilliantly complex film about relationships.

Now, bear with me. Don’t panic. There’s a five-minute shoot out at the very end that’s basically the whole of the trailer. Farrell definitely shoots people in the face. He sets them on fire. He kicks them in the balls. The lot. But that’s five minutes. The rest of the film is chock full of things straight out of some of my favorite films.

A first meeting (or is it?), from opposite balconies. Farrell playing it Gosling cool on a date, and not saying a lot. It took me right back. It’s really important I labour this point. If you go in expecting Farrell to clothes line Terrence Howard – you’ll be disappointed. But you’ll have no right to be.

I’m almost tempted to say if you see one film this weekend make it this. That other brilliant new release will still be playing in June. This will be gone in a week. A minor tragedy.

Farrell made me realise why I’ve defended him all these years. He’s back to Tigerland good, here. Stripped right back. None of the swagger or arrogance that means he’s often dismissed. He’s been hand-picked by Malick and Mann. Doesn’t that tell you something? He even has a hint of a handlebar, here. Those that know me know that’s a huge deal. If I could pick one film to be a series that never made it, it’s Miami Vice. Get those guys back in bullet proof vests, man. That film was pure class. He’s back to the humility of In Bruges. You want to have a beer with him. And be on his side when he’s trying to escape impossible situations. (Also, his accent is perfect. No Magneto style slips, here).

I have to say too, that I’m a little in love with Noomi, now.

I can’t say I’ve ever really got Dragon. I preferred the Fincher version – but I’ve never really gone back to it. It’s a brutal film that just has too much that doesn’t sit well with me. But she’s clearly brilliant. And, just putting it out there, I’m not sure I’ve seen a female role as strong as this since Blue Valentine. And there are similarities there, too.

Maybe this is all in my head. Craig from Establishing Shot Towers disagrees. Thankfully we share lockers so I daubed graffiti on his;

“Establishing Shit more like. Meet me behind the bike sheds (not like that). I’m asking you out (not like that). Royal Rumble style. Stripped to the waist. Fight to the death. Winner gets to bed Farrell. (Not like that).”

It was a long note, granted. He came back halfway through, but in realising he was wrong about Dead Man Down, he let me finish. Not like that.

This film won’t be for everyone. If you want Farrell to just shoot people in the face, handlebar or not, you’ll only be lightly aroused. If, like me, you’d rather see him tell a girl why he can’t love her (and THEN shoot someone in the nuts), then you’ll find loads to love.

There’s even a phone call scene where Noomi says: “I think I could love you”. Just perfect. Arguably it has no right to be in a movie that’s been set as an action thriller. But it’s much more than that.

It may pay to remember that when your screening of JJ’s modern classic has sold out. You could do worse for a Plan B.

Oi, Grobbler, get your weapon of choice. I’ll see you in the Thunderdome in five.

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