A crime thriller with art house sensibilities. Just about what you would expect from Danish helmer Niels Ardeb Oplev, who directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009–original version). He brings along that film’s star Noomi Rapace, and builds out the rest of the cast with top talent. The main themes here are revenge, and how it can be driven–and tempered–by love.
As the pic opens, Darcy (Dominic Cooper) lectures his fellow gang soldier Victor (Colin Farrell) on the importance of family, and making connections, so as to not live alone. Little does Darcy know that Victor is only too well aware of this, having lost his wife and daughter a few years earlier. More than that, Victor has infiltrated the very gang whose leader caused the death of his family. In fact, he too was supposed to be killed, but survived, unknown to all concerned.
Thus, Victor’s presence in this gang is part of an elaborate revenge plot, which is in progress. While the ultimate targets are the gang’s leader Alphonse (Terrence Howard) and the Albanian crew that offed his family, Victor is doing a bang-up job in killing Alphonse’s soldiers–one by one.
There’s only one problem. In the course of this vendetta, Victor lures Paul, a trusted member of Alphonse’s gang to his apartment, and strangles him. Victor lives in a high-rise building in Queens, across the street from a similar tower. As luck would have it, the murder is witnessed–and recorded–by Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), who has been interested in Victor, and has been “nicely” stalking him.
Beatrice sports a few facial scars, which she perceives as much worse than they are. These are the result of an auto accident, that earned the drunk driver who injured her scant punishment. She demands that Victor kill this perp, or she will take her video to the police. A bold and reckless move to be sure, but Beatrice thinks her life has been ruined, and abandons all reasonable caution.
While hardly a “meet cute,” this encounter turns into a relationship for the tortured souls. There is redemption here, but the pathway is rocky indeed.
***SPOILERS AND OTHER COMMENTS***
Some details are overemphasized, while others are ignored. Did we really need to hear about Beatrice’s mother’s obsession with Tupperware–actually with people returning it? Yet, a window in Victor’s truck is broken during a shootout, but is magically restored is later scenes.
There is a pointless cameo by Armand Assante playing a Mafia leader, although he did perform well in the short scene.
Beatrice’s switching of a rabbit’s foot for a video, and Victor’s injuring but not killing the drunk driver riffs on O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi–and was a nice touch.