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Movies From the Black Lagoon:Dead Man Dow

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Dead Man Down - 2013, Rated R
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer

A gangster is recruited by an accident victim to get revenge on the drunk driver who ran her down but all is not what it seems in this dramatic chiller from the director of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
I missed this one in theaters for a very good reason-it was marketed as an action movie that appeared to want to be a thriller. I opted to avoid it, as it didn't look like a very good action flick. It turns out that I was correct (a rare occasion so let me savor it). The film only has one legitimate action sequence. It is actually a drama/thriller that succeeds on both counts.
It starts off like a Hitchcock movie with a friendship developing between two strangers, who live in opposing high-rises. One is Victor. We know he works for a charismatic thug named Alphonse. The other is Beatrice. She stays home most of the time between surgeries to correct the various abrasions she suffered after being in a wreck caused by a drunk driver.
Eventually Victor receives a post card with Bea's number on it. He calls her up and the pair begins a tentative friendship. Eventually Bea reveals that she has a video of Victor strangling a man to death in his flat. Turns out Beatrice wants the man who hurt her to suffer and she wants Victor to be the instrument of her wrath.
Blackmail normally puts a strain on any relationship but Victor is happy to help out and we soon learn why. We find he is a Hungarian immigrant who lost his family to killers working for Alphonse. He wants revenge too and has steadily been working his way into Alphonse's group while carrying out an intricate plan to kill the dozen or so men who had a hand in his family's murder.
We soon learn that he is pretty ruthless, and highly efficient. His apartment acts as his headquarters for carrying out his plan and comes equipped with a panic room that is covered in maps, pictures, and trophies bearing his work to date. He also has a secret hideout on board an abandoned ship where he keeps a key component of his plan-the brother of the Albanian mobster Alphonse used to do his dirty work.
It isn't long before his growing affection complicates everything for Beatrice. He even does her a solid by injuring the man how hurt her but not killing him. Beatrice realizes that she would have been devastated had she been responsible for the man's death. Now she is totally' head over heels' for Victor but his plan is reaching fruition and is survival was never part of the endgame he'd planned.
This one really works thanks to a thoughtful script by J.H. Wyman (Fringe) and measured direction by Niels Arden Oplev (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). They turn out to be a great team. They also manage to attract a fine cat with Colin Farrell stepping in as Victor alongside Noomi Rapace , as Beatrice. The film also benefits from small turns by F. Murray Abraham and Armand Assante as underworld figures. Sadly the studio sold this as an action movie so audiences were not thrilled to get a drama and the people who would have liked it were driven away by the advertising campaign. A blatant case of a studio hiring a foreign director who they admire and then tampering with his product when it is time to market it. If you skipped this when it played in theaters now is the chance to see something dares to make you care about the characters before throwing some thriller elements into the mix. Good stuff and very akin to the thrillers that permeated Hollywood during the 'Film Noir " phase that saw darker storylines and stronger parts for women.
Best Line: "Rabbits don't come in Chartreuse."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to:

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