DEAD MAN DOWN(Neils Arden Oplev). 117 minutes. Opens Friday (March 8). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
Neils Arden Oplev isn't satisfied with making just a standard revenge thriller. The Danish director of the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has high-minded ideas for his follow-up, Dead Man Down.
Between all the flying bullets, he's dealing with immigration issues, gentrification and long-winded meditations on how hope heals more than vengeance. His muscular action movie almost buckles under the weight of its inconsequential tangents and convoluted plot.
Colin Farrell stars as Victor, a gun-for-hire who secretly torments his boss, Alphonse (Terrence Howard), with corpses and cryptic messages. Victor's unnecessarily intricate revenge plot is further complicated when Noomi Rapace's Beatrice enters the picture. An accident victim with facial scar tissue, she blackmails Victor to enlist him in her revenge on whoever rearranged her smile.
Their festering romance is marred by the weak screenplay's drawn-out attempts at meaning, though such flaws do distinguish the movie from the usual Jason Statham vehicle. Much like Beatrice's face, Dead Man Down can be a fascinating mess.
The supporting cast keeps things popping. Dominic Cooper (give this man better roles already) is endearing as a low-rent thug aspiring for more, and Howard mounts a great case for why he should be typecast as a villain. He strikes the perfect balance between menace and comic exasperation.