This Week: Dead Man Down (2013)
Tagline: “Revenge Is Coming.”
WWE Superstar: Wade Barrett
Also Starring: Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard, Noomi Rapace
Synopsis: In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is helped by a woman seeking retribution. (via IMDB)
Watch It: Netflix [currently unavailable] / Amazon / YouTube
Unlike previous installments of Pro Wrestling Movie Club (and most WWE Studios releases in general), Dead Man Down not only does not feature a WWE Superstar in a leading role, it actually features real Hollywood actors and earned a real-deal theatrical release. That will happen when you shell out for Colin Farrell and Terrence Howard (aka the man who believes that one multiplied by one equals two). But does that mean the movie is any good? Let’s find out.
Dead Man Down opens with Alphonse (played by Terrence Howard), a New York City crime boss, discovering one of his soldiers, Paul, has been murdered and stuffed into a freezer, with a note in his hand that leads Alphonse and his crew to a drug dealer. Alphonse then confronts said dealer about the murder, and the dealer pleads ignorance, which isn’t good enough for Alphonse, who then executes him. A massive shootout then commences to a godawful dubstep soundtrack, firmly entrenching this film in 2013.
Here is where we first meet Victor (played by Colin Farrell), who is a member of Alphonse’s gang. Wade Barrett (playing a character named Kilroy, who is part of Alphonse’s crew) is somewhere in here too, probably shooting people, but it’s very difficult to tell because this movie is dark. Not, like, storyline-wise, but coloring-wise. Everything is so goddamn hard to see, and minor characters are so ill-defined to begin with, that it’s a strain on both the eyes and the brain to figure out just what the sh*t is going on.
The film is supposed to be set in New York City, although you never get any major establishing shots of famous landmarks to communicate that. I legitimately thought we were somewhere in Europe initially, due to the sheer amount of subtitled dialogue we get throughout the film. Within the first 15 minutes we have subtitled dialogue in both Spanish and French, and later in the film we get Russian dialogue as well as some form of Albanian (either Tosk or Gheg, but f*ck if I know the difference between either dialect). But the first “W” in WWE does stand for “world,” so I suppose a multicultural feature film is best for branding, I guess.
So! Now we follow Victor back to his apartment, where we learn he has a secret admirer who lives across the way and waves at him by the name of Beatrice (played by Noomi Rapace, of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy). She drops a note in his mailbox with her phone number, leading to a stilted conversation between the two as they stand on their balconies a few dozen yards apart, eventually leading to a dinner date.
Then, all of a sudden, the date ends in quite the abrupt fashion when Beatrice reveals that she saw Victor murder someone in his apartment (presumably Paul, though it’s never explicitly stated, nor is it explained how if it is Paul, that Victor got the body out of his apartment building, down a few dozen stories and then into whatever random deep freeze inside a building Alphonse owns).
So, Beatrice knows he’s a bad dude, and she has the whole thing recorded on her phone as well for blackmail purposes. She tells him that unless he kills the man who injured her in a car accident, she will go to the police. (Beatrice is supposed to be disfigured, but she basically just has a handful of red marks on the side of her face, and it doesn’t do anything to dull Rapace’s natural beauty.) Victor reluctantly accepts the job.
Next, we see Victor torturing … some dude. It’s not the man Beatrice has asked him to kill, so the plot thickens. Then, we cut to Alphonse meeting with another gangster at a restaurant, and then Victor appears on a nearby rooftop, with a sniper rifle trained on Kilroy. He pulls back once he gets a call from his fellow gang member, Darcy who tells him Alphonse is still in danger. No duh.
So apparently Victor is pulling some sort of Serpico-esque role in Alphonse’s crew? No matter: He then opens fire on everyone, sending them scattering. Wade Barrett gets his big line, yelling, “Get the fuck outta here!” while running through the building lobby, followed by “Over here! Come on!” as they flee the scene, looking for Victor, who escaped by rappelling down the side of the building with the help of a dead bad guy he hanged from a makeshift noose. He’s rescued by Beatrice, who has been following him the whole time. Trust issues much?
Victor comes clean with Beatrice: His real name is Laszlo, he was born in Hungary, and he came to America a few years ago looking for work. Apparently the building his family moved to was owned by Alphonse, and his goons were trying to get all the tenants to leave through scare tactics, firing off guns inside the building.
This apparently led to his daughter being killed by a stray bullet (although it’s never shown). Laszlo’s wife was then apparently killed by a group of Albanians hired by Alphonse because she was going to testify against Alphonse’s crew for killing her daughter. (Again, apparently, because we never see any of this, we just hear about it.) Beatrice then gives him a lucky rabbit’s foot because reasons? All of this plot and character development happens at the 51-minute mark. It is the first time we get literally any real backstory for Farrell’s character.
The best scene in Dead Man Down is next: We get to see Wade Barrett playing foosball. He is into it.
So anyway, Victor is trying to get the entire Albanian crew in the same place as Alphonse and his goons to blow them all up at once, most likely killing himself at the same time. Seems a bit complicated, but okay. He does this by kidnapping the brother of the head of the Albanian crew, Ilir, and having him record a video saying he was being held hostage in Alphonse’s warehouse (even though he wasn’t). Victor then removes his blindfold so the guy knows he’s been hoodwinked, then releases dozens of rats to eat and presumably kill him. But Victor gets tired of waiting (after, like, 15 seconds of the rats nibbling on his face) and shoots him instead.
Victor then relies on Beatrice to deliver the video but because he’s a gentleman, he returns Beatrice’s mother’s Tupperware. That’s an important lesson every man needs to learn: When a woman bakes you something, always return the Tupperware. I’ve seen multi-year relationships collapse over something as foolish as throwing away plastic containers. You think I’m kidding, but literally five minutes later in the film, Beatrice’s mother thanks Victor for returning the Tupperware. This sh*t is serious business, fam.
Beatrice then gets dressed up to leave the house but gets attacked by a gang of 12-year-olds calling her “Monster!” because she has a facial scar. She gets busted open the hard way and ends up with a reasonably nice crimson mask. This is more blood than Wade Barrett ever got in six years on WWE TV. (But it’s not like Noomi Rapace ever got to carry a scepter and wear a crown, so who is the real winner here?)
Victor gets a call from Darcy, who is closer and closer to solving the mystery of Paul’s death. He’s tied it to Laszlo, which means he’s tied it to Victor, which means he’s pretty much signed his own death warrant, because Victor is hellbent on executing his revenge plan.
But before Victor deals with that problem, he finally takes care of Beatrice’s wish to kill the man who maimed her. We only see a split second of this before he returns to his truck and gives Beatrice a talisman off the man’s body. She, perhaps unsurprisingly, is pretty shook that she actually had someone killed, and ends up accidentally taking it out on a client whose eyebrows she is plucking. Bummer for that lady, but hey, all good actors suffer for their work, right?
Finally, Victor’s final plan is in motion. He sits in Alphonse’s warehouse with a gun in his hand and a bomb detonator strapped to his wrist, awaiting both gangs to arrive. He also leaves a note for Beatrice telling her that he didn’t kill the man after all. But it turns out she didn’t mail the video to the Albanians, either! (She sent the rabbit’s foot instead, for those who actually care.) The two confess to each other over a phone call, while Darcy goes to Victor’s apartment and discovers his secret revenge room. We haven’t seen Wade Barrett on-screen in what feels like hours. What a bummer.
Darcy catches Beatrice, which then makes Victor rush back to Alphonse’s mansion in his giant pickup truck, which he then crashes through the side of, possibly killing Wade Barrett in the process. (Again, it’s hard to tell, this movie is dark as shit.)
A firefight ensues, between Victor and, like, 20 dudes. On the scale of firefights in and around mansions, it’s passable but it’s no Beverly Hills Cop, that’s for damn sure. Victor comes across Darcy while on the hunt for Alphonse, but decides to let him live. Beatrice escapes from Alphonse’s sight briefly before getting caught by an Albanian, but not before she plants the video of Ilir’s brother saying Alphonse kidnapped him. Ilir sees the video and ends up shooting Alphonse, who shoots him at the same time. Both die. So much for Victor’s revenge.
Victor finds Beatrice and the two make their way out of the ravaged house, only to be stopped by a gun-wielding Darcy, who decides to let them go because Victor let him go a few minutes earlier. Random acts of kindness (or non-murderousness) pay off!
The movie concludes with Victor and Beatrice making out on New York City public transportation. While much of the film was over the top, as anyone who has ever ridden on the NYC subway before can tell you, that is believable.
So! We’ve reached the end. In Pro Wrestling Movie Club, we have three specific questions that must be asked at the conclusion of each film:
1. Is The Movie Objectively Any Good? No. The film is complicated in all the worst ways, with crucial character development purposely withheld for more dramatic reveals later on, rendering much of what we see early on confusing and pointless.
2. Is The WWE Superstar Any Good In It? For being his first movie role, Wade Barrett holds his own, and the guy sounds surprisingly comfortable dropping F bombs. Makes you wonder how far he could’ve gone in the Attitude Era.
3. Would I Be Embarrassed To Have A Friend Find A Copy In My Blu-Ray Collection? I guess that all depends on my friend’s opinion of Colin Farrell. In Bruges was tight and he was good in Horrible Bosses, but he has zero emotion in this movie beyond “stone-faced” so it’s a push.
Next Week: I dive into The Big Show’s debut role as a leading man in Knucklehead. Brace yourself.