The first 5 minutes indicates that this is going to be a default Gangster/Revenge thriller with massive amounts of associated bullshit posturing. If the film were to continue in the same vein as it starts then it would become very tiresome very quickly. Fortunately, as the story develops, the romantic subplot is surprisingly engaging which accentuates the darker aspects of the story. However the darker aspects are not really that interesting or well done but it still manages to engage the viewer.
Colin Farrell is Victor, a gangster’s lieutenant whose neighbour Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) witnesses him killing someone and uses her knowledge to blackmail him. In the meantime, Colin is pursuing his own vendetta against the man he supposedly works for.
Beatrice has been disfigured in a car accident but in normal Hollywood style although her appearance is only slightly different from normal everyone treats her as if she is the elephant man. Children call her names and even throw things at her. She has an understandable grudge against the drunk driver who caused her injuries and spends much of the film trying to convince Farrell to kill him for her.
The extent of Beatrice’s injuries changes throughout the movie, becoming more severe when the writers need to accentuate the difficulty she has in social situations and fading almost to nothing when the romantic storyline comes to the fore. To be fair though she is a beautician so she could be using her skills to hide her scars but since they cause her so much trouble you have to wonder why doesn’t she do this more often.
Some of the action sequences are absurdly public and over the top better suited to a Schwarzenegger movie than a supposedly more subtle film. The set pieces are dramatic and fun but don’t really fit with the style of the rest of the movie which seems to be aiming for a more gritty and realistic theme.
Throughout the film Victor watches his friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper) working out that it is him with the vendetta but doesn’t do anything about it. He obviously wants to protect his friend but doesn’t even make a token effort to put him off the scent.
Beatrice keeps involving herself in Victor’s affairs seemingly unaware or unheeding of the dangers involved. Coupled with Darcy’s investigations, this sets up the obligatory damsel in distress/one man against the world shootout at the end. Crime boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard) takes the girl and lures the hero to his house for a big shootout where of course all the henchmen go up against Farrell one at a time.
The movie avoids some of the biggest stereotypes and clichés but by not fitting into any particular genre cliché it gives itself a difficult job to do in making a rounded story about the characters involved which it ultimately fails to accomplish. Reasonably enjoyable but obviously could have been and had ambitions to be so much more.