FilmDistrict delayed marketing for Niels Arden Oplev’s Dead Man Down, following the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shooting earlier this month. That makes more sense after watching the trailer for Oplev’s grisly Hollywood crime-thriller debut.
Colin Farrell stars as Victor, an NYC hitman blackmailed into murdering his boss: a local crime lord named Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard). The film reunites Oplev with Noomi Rapace – who played Lisbeth Salander in his Swedish-language The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo adaptation - and features her as Victor’s lovely new neighbor Beatrice: the woman using him to seek vengeance against Hoyt, who was responsible for brutalizing and permanently maiming her.
The Dead Man Down trailer is heavy on the explosions and action scene snippets, which is not surprising once you factor in the filmographies for producer Neal H. Moritz (the Fast and the Furious series), as well as executive producers Stuart Ford (Safe, Dredd 3D) and Ori Marmur (Green Hornet, Battle Los Angeles). Oplev’s project is reported to have a relatively smaller budget of $30 million, but looks to follow in Dredd‘s foosteps and pack a lot of bang for less buck.
Depending on who you ask, Oplev’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is either superior or inferior compared to David Fincher’s English-language version; though, the latter has the edge on the technical front, in terms of cinematography and Oscar-winning editing. Dead Man Down ”looks” more polished and cinematic than Oplev’s made-for-TV Dragon Tattoo, thanks to co-editor Frédéric Thoraval (D13, Taken) and director of photography Paul Cameron (Collateral, Total Recall). Indeed, there are elaborate visuals teased in the trailer (see: the spiraling staircase tracking shot), even amidst all the chaotic violence and posturing.
Scripting duties were handled by J. H. Wyman, a longtime Fringe co-executive producer and writer; he’s also head showrunner for the cult sci-fi series’ polarizing climactic fifth season. Nonetheless, there are some interesting elements to his story for Dead Man Down, including (light) political overtones with the casting of foreigners Farrell and Rapace – not to mention, Dominic Cooper (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Isabelle Huppert (Amour) – as immigrants caught up in an American web of death and destruction.
Oplev joins fellow Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) and Korean director Jee-woon Kim (The Last Stand) as overseas filmmakers who have journeyed to the States recently, offering an outsider’s perspective on what could’ve otherwise been routine American action genre exercises. Dead Man Down seems worth checking out on that ground alone, to find out how Oplev’s approach compares to his peers.
Dead Man Down opens in U.S. theaters on March 8th, 2013.