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'Dead Man Down' review: Hollow

Terrence Howard in a scene from

Terrence Howard in a scene from "Dead Man Down." Credit: AP

Noomi Rapace, of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," seems to be making a specialty of playing mangled survivors. As the inked-up Lisbeth Salander, she was a rape victim who gave as good as she got; as an astronaut in "Prometheus," she was gutted by a machine but literally held herself together; in her latest film, "Dead Man Down," she plays Beatrice, a car-crash victim whose face is embroidered with hot pink scars.

She certainly isn't the sunny love interest usually encountered in crime thrillers like "Dead Man Down," but this is an unusually dark film. On its face, it's a typical revenge story, with Colin Farrell as Victor, a man patiently plotting the deaths of those who killed his family and saving his grandest gesture for crime boss Alphonse Hoyt (a slick Terrence Howard). If you're thinking Beatrice represents a new start for this sullen widower, you're right -- to a point.

Victor, who takes a serial killer's pleasure in planting cryptic clues and puzzle pieces on his victims, could certainly use some cheering up. Unfortunately, Beatrice is hatching her own grisly plan and has chosen Victor to execute it. After their first date goes frighteningly awry, she begins tailing her new "boyfriend" on his various assassinations and, even more frightening, shows up to his apartment sporting little-girl pigtails and crazy eyes. In this morbid, morose movie, this is what passes for romance.

Niels Arden Oplev, Rapace's "Dragon Tattoo" director, makes his American debut here, but this blend of Scandinavian gloom and Hollywood hokum never jells. Our two heroes are such single-minded death-mongers that the villains don't seem so bad (Dominic Cooper plays a fairly amiable crook). Victor is a joyless slab of stone, but it's Beatrice who seems shattered beyond repair. Not even Rapace can save her.

PLOT A man plotting an elaborate revenge meets a woman with her own twisted agenda.

RATING R (violence, lanugage)

CAST Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard


BOTTOM LINE All the dark psychosis you'd expect from Rapace and her "Dragon Tattoo" director, with none of the fun. Hollow, noisy and joyless.

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