"“It just doesn't feel like anything particularly new or innovative...”"

As contemporary Scandinavian cinema continues to thrive, the obvious route for the talented filmmakers behind such prosperous productions is to move to Hollywood, and following in the path of Safe House director Daniel Espinosa, it's now time for the director of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Niels Arden Oplev to make the move to Tinseltown, with his first English language feature Dead Man Down.

Hungarian gangster Victor (Colin Farrell) may appear to work besides crime lord Alphonse (Terrence Howard), yet he has in fact infiltrated this criminal empire, intent on getting revenge on the man who wrecked his life when ordering the murders of his wife and child. Pensively torturing Alphonse with intimidating and suspicious letters and symbols, Victor's plan takes a knock when his neighbour Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) discovers his intentions. With a revenge mission of her own – seeking payback on the drunk driver who disfigured her face – she uses her knowledge against Victor to get him on side.

The premise itself is intriguing, as a good old-fashioned revenge plot that often makes for such absorbing cinema. However the feature attempts too much with the correlating storyline between Victor and Beatrice, and although the romantic narrative is inevitable in such a movie, it's their reason for meeting that is questionable, feeling somewhat contrived and unnatural. The problem is, you simply don't believe in her cause whatsoever, nor do you agree with her motives. Yes she has been left with a bad scar across her left eye, but would a supposedly likeminded person really want a drunk driver murdered for such a crime? It seems too strong and immoral, and given Beatrice is a character we are supposed to like, it doesn't help the viewer endear themselves to her when she holds such an irrational grudge.

To further the vexations surrounding the character of Beatrice, the chemistry between Rapace and Farrell is not as strong as one had hoped. This is an example of two great actors who by rights should work well on screen together, but their characters simply aren't compatible enough. Although the protagonist of the piece, Farrell does feel somewhat underused in this instance, as despite dominating the screen time, he doesn't actually have much dialogue, and we don't get a sense for the  charismatic, cheeky persona of which he is so renowned. Of course he is playing a different kind of role, contrary to his usual characters – but it just feels that for a performer who thrives with sharp, witty dialogue, this is an example of an actor not playing to his own strengths, or a filmmaker perhaps not quite utilising his lead's potential. That said, he does still have such a screen presence, with a captivating watchability that commands the screen.

Howard is also impressive as Alphonse, although he may need to rethink his decision to play detective – as when fervently chasing after the man who is mentally torturing him with junk mail, he reckons he has spotted his perpetrator when he notices a similar writing style in regards to the number '7' with an adversary, who he then proceeds to kill. Well, this very same culprit – hailing from Britain no less – wouldn't have spelt the word realise with a 'Z'. Gawd.

Pedantry aside, Dead Man Down is a decent action thriller, however it just doesn't feel like anything particularly new or innovative. It's also far too long, as for relentless action movies such as this one, you need to just stay around the 90 minute mark, there is no need to pad it out, as by doing so, it merely seeks in exposing some of the weaknesses in the narrative. Films such as this needs to be kept short and sweet.