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Dead Man Down: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Review

Dead Man Down (2013) movie poster Dead Man Down

Theatrical Release: March 8, 2013 / Running Time: 118 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Niels Arden Oplev / Writer: J.H. Wyman

Cast: Colin Farrell (Victor/Lazlo Kerick), Noomi Rapace (Beatrice Lauzon), Terrence Howard (Alphonse), Dominic Cooper (Darcy), Isabelle Huppert (Valentine Lauzon), Luis Da Silva Jr. (Terry), Wade Barrett (Kilroy), Franky G (Luco), Declan Mulvey (Goff), John Cenatiempo (Charles), Roy James Wilson, Jr. (Blotto), Myles Humphus (Lance), Stephen Hill (Roland), Aaron Vexler (Paul), James Biberi (Ilir Brozi), F. Murray Abraham (Gregor Luvik), Andrew Stewart-Jones (Harry), Krystal Tini (Harry's Girl), William Zielinski (Alex), Jessica Wilson (Alex's Girl), Armand Assante (Lon Gordon)

Buy Dead Man Down from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet DVD Instant Video

Logos for one distributor and four production companies precede Dead Man Down. Of them, the one that most stands out is WWE Studios, a subsidiary of World Wrestling Entertainment. In their first eleven years in the business,
the company has been involved in making films for their most famous wrestlers, initially co-producing the earliest movies of crossover legend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and since solely developing vehicles like The Marine for John Cena. It is not a brand you expect to see attached to the English language debut of Niels Arden Oplev, the Danish director of the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Safely assuming you don't recognize wrestler Wade Barrett in a small role, this dark revenge thriller does not look the part of a WWE production, its cast boasting the likes of Colin Farrell, the original Girl's Noomi Rapace, Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard, and Dominic Cooper, as well as the less advertised participation of such seasoned vets as F. Murray Abraham, Armand Assante, and France's Isabelle Huppert.

Just because it doesn't look like a mindless action movie WWE can spin into direct-to-video sequels with lesser actors doesn't mean Dead Man Down is the respectable cinematic excursion you expect of its talent.

Victor (Colin Farrell) gets to know his neighbor. Following a car accident, beautician Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) doesn't feel beautiful these days.

The film stars Farrell as Victor, an important cog in the wheel of a small New York-based crime organization. In about nine months, Victor has risen to one of the most trusted associates of boss Alphonse (Howard), whose life he saves with some stealthy gunplay.

Meanwhile, in one of those scenarios that only exist in the movies, Victor strikes up a relationship with Beatrice (Rapace), a French-American woman whose Queens apartment window looks into his place across the street. An out-of-work beautician whose face is scarred from a recent car accident, Beatrice reveals that she knows that Victor isn't really in "real estate"; she has video showing him killing a man. She vows to go to the police unless Victor performs an act of vengeance for her, offing the drunk driver who disfigured her and only served three weeks in prison.

A Hungarian immigrant who mostly hides his accent, Victor is not truly what he seems, not even to Beatrice, and in fact he too is motivated by personal revenge, albeit the kind that requires a long, deep commitment to an artificial name and persona.

Darcy (Dominic Cooper) does some investigation into Alphonse's threat. Alphonse (Terrence Howard) may be the boss, but he's still in danger.

Ranging from somewhat incoherent to flat out stupid, Dead Man Down relies heavily on contrivance and convention. It forms a bond between its two damaged leads, then pits them against trusting criminals who can only determine the anonymous individual threatening them one piece at a time (literally and figuratively). Feeling dull at various points in its nearly two-hour runtime, the often slow drama briefly springs to life with loud outbursts, like a shootout finale, but not to any dramatic effect. Its least realistic notion is to make Beatrice be taunted by neighborhood boys,
who call her "Monster" (despite her scratches being easily hidden by her hair) and somehow anticipate her every move, prepared to hurl a rock at her head the night she dares to wear a pretty dress again.

By the time that Victor and Beatrice realize they might love each other, you're already cringing and ambivalent as to whether or not he can succeed in his elaborate mission against gangsters we have no real reason to dislike.

Dead Man Down is the first theatrical screenplay by J.H. Wyman since 2001's unloved, similarly overlong The Mexican. In that time, he's dabbled primarily in television, creating the short-lived crime series "Keen Eddie" and Fox's upcoming "Almost Human" in addition to writing and showrunning "Fringe." His next movie, in theory at least, is a remake of the 1979 cult classic The Warriors.

After bombing in just over 2,000 theaters last March (a mere week before WWE's other play for legitimacy, The Call, fared much better), Dead Man Down hits stores today in a DVD and a Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet combo pack from FilmDistrict video distributor Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Dead Man Down: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($26.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The 2.40:1 transfer is clean and sharp like the vast majority of Sony Blu-rays, but the visuals are very dark (a factor that contributes to the film's drowsy effect). The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is mostly fine and fitting, although it cranks up the volume to a bothersome extreme on the few action outbursts involving gunfire and cars.

Storyboards plan out the carnage. Director Niels Arden Oplev has no eyebrows, but he does have some thoughts to share in "Revenge and Redemption: Crafting 'Dead Man Down.'"

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Both the Blu-ray and DVD include "Staging the Action: The Firefights" (5:44), which dissects the film's set pieces with looks at pre-visualization videos and storyboards, as well as reflections from the cast and stunt choreographers.

The other two featurettes are exclusive to Blu-ray, where they are of course presented in HD.

"Revenge and Redemption: Crafting Dead Man Down" (11:30) is a general overview gathering comments about story and characters from director Oplev and actors Farrell, Rapace, Howard, and Cooper.

Paul Cameron plans a shot in "Revenge Technique: The Cinematography." The DVD's main menu's decision to chop this image of Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace actually relates to the movie's content in a way.

"Revenge Technique: The Cinematography" (6:31) collects thoughts from director of photography Paul Cameron and Oplev as well as some production B-roll. It's an okay short,
but it overstates the power and significance of the visuals.

The discs open with trailers for Olympus Has Fallen, The Last Exorcism Part II, Evil Dead, and The Call. The Previews section provides individual access to each of those plus trailers for "House of Cards": Season 1 and Parker. Dead Man Down's own trailer is not preserved here.

Apart from piecing together the occasional shot with thematic squares, the Blu-ray's menu simply plays filtered action clips to generic score excerpts. The DVD's menu keeps the square-design and loses the animation. The Blu-ray supports bookmarks and also resumes playback without fail.

The side-snapped keepcase, which features artwork on both sides, is topped by a glossy slipcover and holds an insert with your unique, complimentary UltraViolet code that expires at the end of 2016.

Victor (Colin Farrell) gets a phone call, his big secret now out of the bag in "Dead Man Down."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Dead Man Down is a notch or two above how good most WWE movies look (I can't confess to having seen any others), but it still makes for an underwhelming thriller too dark, long, and convoluted to hold your attention. Sony's Blu-ray combo pack supplies adequate picture, sound, and bonus features. It's a competent release of a film you're unlikely to love.

Buy Dead Man Down from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet / DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed July 9, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 FilmDistrict, IM Global, WWE Studios, Automatik, Original Film, Frequency Films, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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