Paddy Considine is a bad-a*s. And don’t you forget that. I’ve known that fact since his utterly frightening performance as a mentally imbalanced recluse in “A Room for Romeo Brass”, and then as the well-intentioned dad in “In America”, and he flexes that bad-a*s ability with “Dead Man’s Shoes”.
One cardinal rule in nature: Don’t ever f**k with a man’s family. And the group of men in this turbulent film broke that rule. I love a good revenge flick; from “Oldboy” to “Death Wish”, there’s only so many ways you can pull one off. But when you hit that mark, oh god is it sweet. Luckily, director Meadows pull’s it off with flying colors. “When they get to heaven they’ll be forgiven. God will forgive them and let them in. And I can’t live with that.” After returning from the military, Richard discovers that his mentally unstable younger brother has been befriended a group of gangsters who proceeded in taking advantage of him and brutally abusing him. Now he wants payback, and he won’t relent until every one of them suffers a brutal death.
“Dead Man’s Shoes” isn’t your typical revenge flick. Considine’s character isn’t a tough guy, he doesn’t shout one-liners, and doesn’t jerk his brow to the camera. But that’s what makes him so dangerous. He’s a soldier who can sneak in and do his job, and he does so in the most unspectacular ways. Considine pulls in yet another excellent performance as Richard, a mentally unstable war veteran who just wants to make sure the people that hurt his brother pay. And “Dead Man’s Shoes” is a revenge film that’s not classified as an action film. Considine’s Richard is an utterly frightening anti-hero who performs his acts of vengeance without a pause, and gives a large satisfied smile with every act. And, for good reason. His methods of revenge begin with a comedic tone as the gangsters begin turning on one another, and finding humor in the prankster that smashes their homes, and spray paints their hair, but as the story progresses, the incidents become darker and darker until people start turning up dead.
Meadow’s film is far from your typical film about a man seeking vengeance, and it’s made crystal clear by the shocking second half that reveals a plot twist that sums up Richard’s mentality. With the well done script, Meadows keeps his central character a complex human being seeking justification and atoning for his own personal sins. And gladly Meadows never turns him in to an action movie cliché. Considine is much too talented to be resorted to such gimmicks. “Dead Man’s Shoes” is an original, complex, and utterly gruesome revenge parable, and never portrays its characters as black and white. Considine handles his performance like a pro, and only adds to the pure skill behind it.