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Dead Man Down by Jacob Groth (Review)

posted Apr 26, 2013, 6:40 PM by Kaya Savas

Dead Man Down is Niels Arden Oplev’s stylized action noir that continues his collaboration with composer Jacob Groth. The director/composer team garnered attention for the original adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. For Dead Man Down the director re-teams with actress Noomi Rapace with Colin Farrell taking the lead. Groth's resulting score is something that has tons of mood and atmosphere but not enough driving force to make it memorable. 
The score immediately builds atmosphere around you as the sound fills almost every area of negative space. Strings makeup most of what you're hearing, but added electronic textures help make the music a bit easier to grasp. As we move along in the narrative we encounter a few action tracks, but when they happen it feels as if they appear out of nowhere. Sometimes we dip into some very dark thriller music, and we also have a bit of character moments. The whole package never seems to gel together. It feels as if we have some greatly structured pieces stuck in a blob of unstructured ambience. The music does paint moods and pushes you into different emotions, but the slow progression won’t likely hold many listeners for long. When some percussion or variation enters the score it is a most welcomed thing as it helps change up the pace and makes it more engaging. The last few tracks are where the score really shines. In the last few tracks is where we get the most emotion and structure. Groth ends the score in a great way that almost makes you forget the slow walk it took to get to that point.

Dead Man Down is nothing notable or exceptional. It’s a very moody and atmospheric score that tries to give a mysterious thrilling feel. The sudden bursts of action almost feel out of place, but they are greatly appreciated since they up the pacing and give us some tangible structure. All in all, this isn’t a bad score but it really isn’t a great one. The score runs a short 46 minutes and doesn’t offer much resonating qualities once its done. Worth a listen if you’re a fan of Groth’s past work, but don’t expect anything special.