I guess I haven’t seen enough of these heavily accented British movies to be able to narrow down where they’re from, as I was guessing these folks were Scottish from the accents, but the reviews I checked consistently said English.
In any case, it’s a real strain as an American to figure out what they’re saying. I understood perhaps 70% of the dialogue. It’s really not a complex movie, so even understanding only 70% it’s not like I was lost, but of course one does miss certain details and nuance. I wish they had subtitled it, as is occasionally done for heavily accented movies (for example, the Scottish segment of Tickets).
This is a revenge-themed action movie, really not a genre I’m a big fan of. Watching this movie did nothing to encourage me to change my mind about that. There’s enough going on that it held my interest reasonably well, but I can’t say much positive about the movie beyond that.
The film is about a soldier (Paddy Considine) who returns to his small town to wreak vengeance on the pack of hooligan, low level drug dealers who bullied and tormented his retarded younger brother (Toby Kebbell) while he was away.
The abuse is shown in black and white flashbacks throughout the film. It’s more psychological than physical, and culminates in a surprise that requires reinterpreting some of the storyline that takes place in the present. (I had noticed something odd about the story, but assumed it was just a bit of sloppiness. Turns out that it was intentional, and that the ending makes sense of it.)
The bulk of the movie consists of Considine seeking out the perpetrators of the abuse and murdering them one by one. There are violent scenes, but it wouldn’t rank all that high on a list of the most violent movies. There’s some emotional intensity to the violent scenes, but really not as much as one might expect.
And it’s as unrealistic as such movies have to be, I suppose. When the bad guys square off against the avenger, either they don’t have guns, or, in one case, they shoot at him, miss, and then frantically run away without firing a second shot even though he’s standing in plain sight right in front of them with an arrogant grin.
The violence is every bit as pointless as it would be in real life. I hate that kind of bullying, but even if you’re a believer in violence, Considine’s revenge is disproportionate. Furthermore, a lot of his brother’s suffering that resulted from certain drunks’ offensive behavior was unintended, and some of the others present were guilty of no more than failing to actively intervening to stop their brethren, rather than of doing much of anything themselves. Which is not to say the bad guys aren’t bad guys, but it makes the response of mass murder even more excessive, to my mind.
And what does it all accomplish in the end, beyond saving face for the avenger by establishing that he’s the kind of conventional tough guy macho male who doesn’t flinch from killing people when a cave man code of ethics requires it? Do all these murders somehow reverse the suffering of his brother?
It’s all a lot of pointless mayhem. I never bought into this crusade of revenge for even a moment. Considine just comes across as a psychopath.
I loved director Shane Meadows’s This Is England. But Dead Man’s Shoes is not really my type of movie.