An interesting revenge thriller that could have benefited from higher production values and budget, "Dead Man's Shoes" is the deadly tale of a man who taunts and murders the gang responsible for taking advantage of his simple-minded little brother.
Paddy Considine stars as Richard, an ex-Navy officer who has returned home to find that the mentally slow younger brother he used to protect was taken in and manipulated to extreme measures by a local gang of drug dealers. His anger driving everything, he sets out to kill them one by one.
"Dead Man's Shoes" thrives in how it makes a simple story just a little complicated, as it smoothly shifts between drama, revenge thriller and even horror to some degree. While Considine plays what would generally be considered the protagonist, there is no clear hero here. While "the bad guys" certainly are not pleasant, much of the movie is told from their point of view, and Richard is treated almost like some killer in a slasher flick, showing up when he wants to stab, shoot or play with his victims without any remorse. For the most part, you want him to get to his next victims, but as the movie progresses it gets more and more difficult to choose a side.
The story is effective and fast-paced, rarely losing its edge or entertainment factor. Unfortunately, this is one of those movies that really could have been improved with a slightly larger budget. The acting is good, but the look and feel of the film leave a little to be desired. At times, the film quality looks like something out of some Discovery Channel documentary on British farmland - it just isn't that crisp. On top of that, director Shane Meadows' work is also inconsistent. For the most part, it is adequate enough, but sometimes the transitions and camera angles appear a bit amateurish.
If you like British crime thrillers, especially gritty ones, "Dead Man's Shoes" is worth checking out.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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