“Dead Man Down,” the new film from WWE Studio, has something for everyone. It’s a new genre that mixes a revenge drama with a romantic subplot—complete with sweeping violin accompaniment. I suppose it is an action flick for the guys with just enough romance to make it a date movie as well, but a revenge drama from WWE Studios should be about violence, not violins.
Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the original “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” blends together these two unlikely genres—is this a romrev; a romantic revenge?—to tell the story of Victor (Colin Farrell), the right hand man to Alphonse Hoyt, a notorious crime lord played by Terence Howard. For months Hoyt has been receiving strange, threatening letters. When a close associate turns up dead with a note clenched in his fist and part of a picture stuffed in his mouth, Hoyt lashes out, leading his men on the first of the film’s wild shoot outs.
Thus begins a twisty-turny story of revenge involving Victor, Alphonse, a group of Albanian thugs and Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a former beautician whose face was disfigured in a drunk driving accident.
To tell you anything about the nature of the revenge would take some of the punch away from the movie. Characters are driven to extremes by the kind of dark forces that only seem to happen in movies, as they concoct elaborate plots to get even with those who did them wrong. Just a hint, rat-o-phobes might want to avoid a late plot development.
Farrell brings his usual brooding intensity to the role of Victor, Rapace’s exotic, otherworldly presence nicely compliments the film’s off-kilter feel—you wouldn’t expect the girl with the dragon tattoo to play a passive girlfriend role and she doesn’t, up to a point—and Oplev supplies atmospherics to burn, but the movie’s tale of revenge simply isn’t sturdy enough to hold the whole thing together.
Plot holes big enough for Andre the Giant to walk through (this is, after all produced by World Wrestling Entertainment) are hard to swallow and the romantic elements sand some of the edge off the gritty story.
“Dead Man Down” is a genre movie with one too many genres to fully succeed.