Theatrical Review: Paddy Considine
is a good actor. He's one of those actors that you never really remember as a name, but you remember the face without a problem. He was Russell Crowe
's union-petitioning friend in Cinderella Man, the sporadic manager of Joy Division in 24 Hour Party People, and the stressed-out, principled father in In America. Considine tends to be the better part of most of the films he's in, and Dead Man's Shoes is no exception to that opinion.
In the Midlands, Richard (Considine), a mentally-scarred soldier, has returned home. He hasn't returned to the house of his upbringing, but rather a small shed on an abandoned farm. See, Richard is home to take revenge on a small group of hoods. While he was away, these hoods, led by Shane (Gary Stretch
), tortured and abused Richard's younger, mentally disabled brother (Toby Kebbell
). After a prodding prank that involved painting the hoods on their faces and heads, Richard gets serious. The first body is found in the bathroom of the hangout, axe wounds a plenty. Richard dispatches them quickly and saves a reformed hood with a family. Not to be bested by any ghost movie, the film springs a trick ending which is, to say the least, uncalled for. Article continues below
In all theoretical terms, the film is a failure and does nothing new or especially radical with the normal revenge flick. On an entertainment level, it's gritty but also has a mundane, often monotonous tone to it. As Richard goes on his path of destruction, no one is spared from his vengeance until he gets to the family man. What the film seems to be saying is that no matter what you do, if you become a normal family man, you will be forgiven any past transgressions. The entertainment value of a film can often supersede its theoretical ideals, but here there is nothing impressive about the entertainment. Richard is set up as an unstoppable presence and remains that way until the last 10 minutes of the film. Not even the way he dispatches the criminals is especially interesting or clever; M:I 3
had better deaths.
It's a wonder watching Considine try to bring something exciting to the character, however. The best scene of the film is the first interaction between Richard and Shane. Richard openly admits where he is living and that they are all welcome to come and kill them or to leave town immediately. When Shane threatens him back, Considine wildly shakes his head and makes a scared noise. It's a simple, human admission of indifference for what Richard knows is going on and what will happen. The problem is that we also know what's going on and how it's going to end. Not even Considine can stop that.