Dead Man’s Shoes

Dead Man's Shoes

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 Dead Man’s Shoes is English.

In any case, it’s a real strain to figure out what they’re saying. I’m guessing I understood 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 you do miss certain details and nuance. I wish they had subtitled it, as was done with Tickets, including the parts in English.

This is a revenge-themed action movie, really not a genre I would normally bother with. The only movie of all the ones I’ve written about that’s even close to this one would be King of the Ants, and that one doesn’t clearly develop into that type of movie until it’s pretty far along.

Watching this movie did nothing to encourage me to change my mind and become a fan of this genre. 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 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 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 this guy 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, his revenge is disproportionate. Furthermore, a lot of his brother’s suffering was unintended consequences of the drunks’ offensive behavior, and some of the drunks were only guilty of not actively intervening to stop their brethren rather than 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. At least in King of the Ants, the bad guys did a lot worse stuff, and they remained a lethal threat to the protagonist if he didn’t get them before they got him. So even though I couldn’t endorse his violence, at least I had some sympathy for him and what he was doing. But I never bought into this guy’s crusade even that much. He just comes across as a psychopath.

So, Dead Man’s Shoes is not really my type of movie.

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