A crime lord and a betrayal. Sounds like pretty standard R-rated stuff, but this cast is a cut above and as a result, it slipped up on my blind side. After a pretty standard shoot-em-up opening scene, to my surprise, I soon had people to root for and very much wanted them to survive to the final curtain.
Danish director Niels Arden Oplev ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") skillfully manipulates us into caring about two damaged people, one physically and one emotionally, as each tries to cope with the aftermath of a personal catastrophe.
These folks made it happen:
- * Colin Farrell ("Seven Psychopaths") is an immigrant, a bright Hungarian engineer who is carrying emotional scars that demand payback. Of course, it's always interesting to watch a smart person tackle a tough problem and we often forget that Mr. Farrell is a wonderful actor.
- * Noomi Rapace ("Prometheus") is a (formerly) lovely beautician whose life changed instantly when she was hit by a drunken driver. Rapace is one of those amazing international stars who simply asks where her character is from and takes it from there.
- * Terrence Howard ("The Ledge") plays icy threats very, very well. This kingpin is being harried by some anonymous gangster and he wants it to stop!
* Dominic Cooper ("My Week With Marilyn") is one of the murderous gang who owes fealty to his leader, but also has a wife and child. London-born Mr. C. plays American so often, he may lose his natural accent.
Make no mistake, there is a lot of gunfire, profanity and cruelty, but the audience was deeply invested in the outcome. In fact, at the conclusion there was a spatter of applause, which is rare in a screening.