When vicious New York mobster Alphonse (Terrence Howard) discovers the body of his key henchman in his own freezer, one of the few people he can trust is enforcer Victor (Colin Farrell), the man who saved his life during a gang shoot-out. However, Victor is working to his own secret agenda, a state of affairs complicated be his burgeoning relationship with his neighbour (Noomi Rapace). Serpentine thriller from Denmark's Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Niels Arden Oplev
Expectations were not unreasonably high at the prospect of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev opting for New York as the setting for his thriller.
He's got the cast - Colin Farrell, TGWTDT's Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard. He's got some splendidly gritty dockside locations. And he's got a good track record.
Unfortunately, he hasn't got another Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He's got a disappointingly by-the-numbers revenge yarn unspieled at great length by writer JH Wayman, whose most famous effort was 2001's The Mexican.
Farrell plays Victor, a dead-eyed lieutenant in the crew of mobster Alphonse (Howard), a pretty-boy psycho who makes his money in a New York property racket where tenants are encouraged to move out by a feral gang of Albanian hatchet men.
Alphonse is not unreasonably rattled when one of his senior aides turns up in his freezer clutching an enigmatic message and part of a photograph. The hood just happened to be investigating a low-key intimidation campaign being waged against his boss.
While seeking the killer, Alphonse finds himself trapped in a shoot-out and is saved by Victor from a point-blank range rubbing out. His loyalty unquestionable, Victor heads back to his flat for a bit of hoovering...and catches the eye of neighbour Beatrice (Rapace).
She carries the scars of a horrific car accident and - while out on a first date with the taciturn Victor - springs on him a terrifying request...backed up with a blatant threat of blackmail.
The first English-language work from Danish director Oplev, this begins intriguingly with an almost European sensibility then - once the major twist is sprung early doors - rattles downhill at an increasingly leaden pace.
Dawdling where it should dash, there's an awful lot of running about and getting nowhere with Farrell looking increasingly perplexed, Rapace confusingly morphing from damsel in distress to kick-ass action girl with only Howard a compelling presence, thanks to his occasional hysterical (and violent) outbursts.
That said, the action is well handled even if this seems destined to disappear into the box marked 'Thrillers (average)'.