A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dead Man Down is a revenge-themed thriller from the director and star of the original Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's not nearly as intense as that movie, but it does have plenty of violence, language, and sexuality. There are close-range shootings and several gunfights, with dead bodies and some blood, and a character is briefly tortured (tied up and covered with rats). A minor character has sex with a prostitute, though no graphic nudity is actually shown. The male and female leads kiss on two occasions. "F--k" is used several times and "s--t" a few times. All of the main characters smoke cigarettes, and an illegal cocaine facility, with piles of cocaine, is briefly shown. Though the main character experiences some redemption, he's still driven by vengeance, and there are no repercussions for the killings he commits in the name of revenge.
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What's the story?
Victor (Colin Farrell) works for a gangster called Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard), and, though he seems loyal, he's actually doing it undercover to get revenge for the death of his wife and daughter. In the middle of a complex scheme to lure a group of bad guys under one roof, Victor meets opposition when his best friend, Darcy (Dominic Cooper), starts to investigate his secret activities. Worse, a pretty neighbor, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), figures out who Victor is and asks him to kill the drunk driver who disfigured her face. When Victor and Beatrice get romantically involved, Victor's plan slowly unravels. And, after incurring the wrath of the gangsters, will he be able to set things right again?
Is it any good?
Director Niels Arden Oplev, who helmed the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes a solid English-language debut with DEAD MAN DOWN. Reteaming with Dragon Tattoo star Rapace, he crafts a well-paced thriller; like his previous film, it's a sturdy potboiler that's directed with a European sense of space and rhythm, accepting of character flaws, and generous with time for characters to breathe and develop at their own pace.
The screenplay by J.H. Wyman (The Mexican, the TV series Fringe) has a few twisty surprises in the first half, but even after everything is revealed, Dead Man Down keeps the momentum chugging toward an exciting conclusion. It doesn't rely too much on gore or violence and rather enjoys its colorful supporters, including Isabelle Huppert as a deaf, doting mother, Armand Assante as a scary gangster, and F. Murray Abraham as a helpful father-in-law. Overall, it's a decent, logical, revenge-based thriller.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dead Man Down's violence and revenge. How does the movie justify the main character killing so many people and getting away with it? Who doesn't he kill? Is he a sympathetic character despite his actions? Why?
How is Beatrice's revenge different from, or similar to, Victor's revenge?
Are the main characters likable here? Are they intended to be role models? Why or why not?
How does Victor's friendship with Darcy affect his plan? Does friendship weaken a person or make you stronger?