Director Niels Ardon Oplev gave us the original version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo back in 2009, so the idea of him reteaming with the original Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) along with the rest of this respectable cast for his English language debut was enough to generate no small amount of excitement. Unfortunately, Dead Man Down is mostly Dead On Arrival, with its been-there-done-that plot and messy tone.
We first meet Victor (Colin Farrell) as he is protecting crime-boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard) from an ambush, but little does Alphonse realise that Victor is merely working his way up the ranks of the syndicate with ulterior motives in mind. Victor's neighbour, the emotionally and physically damaged Beatrice (Rapace) has witnessed some of his illegal activities, and blackmails him into killing the man who got away with hitting her while drunk-driving. Then there's Victor's best friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper), who also works for Alphonse, and is on the trail of the rat inside the organisation, not realising just how close the rat actually is. There are actually even more subplots going on - some involving an Albanian hit squad, another involving local bullies - so there's not a lack of stuff going to keep your attention. It's just a shame that it's entirely second-hand, and from the opening credits you can probably tell how it's all going to end.
Farrell's character is Hungarian, and for the first ten minutes he actually says nothing, but when he does talk, his Irish/American accent is poorly explained away. Then we get Farrell trying out his Hungarian accent in some flashback sequences, and it is shockingly awful. Rapace does better with a less likeable character, while Cooper and Isabelle Huppert (as Rapace's mother) are fine but forgettable. The only one who gets it right is Howard, who, unlike the director, brings the right amount of sleazy menace to the table.
Oplev takes the whole thing too seriously, treating the film almost like a drama when what it needed was to be something more akin to Taken. Finally, when the film's bullet-and-explosion heavy climax does take place, we get a sense of what the film should have bene like all along. But by then, sadly, it's too little too late.