PREDICTIONS: ‘Orange is the New Black’ season 2

Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” premiered in July and follows unlikely inmate, Piper (Taylor Schilling), who’s incarcerated for drug-mule-ing 10 years after her offense. Nearly one hour in the slammer was uncomfortable to watch at first, but this show’s inmate backstories reeled me in.

Season 2 “airs” Friday on Netflix, and here are my predictions.

  • PREDICTION 1: Piper is full-out cray. At the end of S1, she lost her sh*t on methhead Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), and from the looks of the trailer, she’s a hardened, blonde thug in S2. DO I BUY IT: S1′s cliffhanger/climax says sweet Piper is long gone, and I’m jazzed to see the effects of her transformation.

READY FOR THE DEUCE: Piper (Taylor Schilling) in “Orange is the New Black.”

  • PREDICTION 2: Crazy Eyes (Uzo Abuda) is moving up in the ranks. She was kind of a supporting antagonist in S1 and the butt of a lot of jokes, but methinks, from her strange Shakespearean flip in S1 and the Netflix trailer, show creator Jenji Kohan is gonna take Abuda’s acting chops out for a spin. DO I BUY IT: Yes. As a huge fan of each character, I’m ready to see Crazy Eyes’ backstory revealed.
  • PREDICTION 3: Daya (Dascha Polanco) kicks prison guard/baby daddy Bennett (Matt McGorry) to the curb for his nasty counterpart Mendez (Pablo Schrieber). I suspect this leads to Bennett’s fall from grace that will mirror Piper’s. DO IT BUY IT: Yes. He’s too bright-eyed and dimpled to stay adorably innocent. And on the flip side, this offers a solid insight into how inmates and guards can eventually turn for the worst.

Alex (Laura Prepon) in OITNB.

  • PREDICTION 4: Piper’s ex-lover Alex (Laura Prepon) continues to canoodle with Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), and it fuels Piper’s rage. DO I BUY IT: Yeah. Piper and Alex pretty much cut all cunnilingus ties in S1, and I think show writers will do anything to push Piper to the next psycho plateau. 
  • PREDICTION 5: This is more of a certainty than a prediction, Queen Bee, Red’s (Kate Mulgrew) reign will be challenged by newcomer Vee (Faye Yvette McQueen). Who knows the beef between these two, but I’m raring to find out. DO I BUY IT: Yes. Red sometimes wields her power for evil, forcing Piper to starve because she insulted the jail’s food. And the grocery bin/drug thing was way harsh. I predict this will lead to a showdown of Shakespearean proportions.

Regardless of what goes down this season, I’m in. For those who haven’t watched and those who want a refresher, we’ve got four days.

INDIEWATCH: ‘Mary and Max’ a heavy-hitting claymation delight

In “Mary and Max,” Mary is an Australian outcast with “eyes the color of muddy puddles” and a brown birthmark on her forehead.

Her only connections to the world are her pet rooster, her taxidermist father and her klepto mom — who “tests” the cooking Sherry on the daily.

She’s bullied at school, and her only solace is drinking condensed milk and watching “The Noblets.”

NOM NOM: Mary loves her some chocolate.

Max is a squirrelly New Yorker with Asperberg’s Syndrome. He floats between jobs and chocolate recipes and frequents Overeaters Anonymous meetings.

At the post office, Mary randomly picks Max’s name out of a phone book and her curiosity and longing for a connection prompts her to reach out.

Through childlike type and misspelled words, she asks where babies come from in America. (She thinks dads find them at the bottom of beer pints.)

Because of his condition, Mary’s letter gives Max an anxiety attack. After that settles, his own loneliness moves him to engage with her through snail nail.

Philip Seymour Hoffman voices Max in claymation dramedy, “Mary and Max.”

He answers Mary’s question with what he was told at age 4: “Babies come from eggs laid by rabbis,” he writes, while a claymation rabbi sits on an egg, puffing a cig.

“If you’re an atheist, they come from dirty, lonely prostitutes.”

I laughed out loud at the absurdity and charm in his delivery that is without judgment or prejudice — like that of a child.

But in the same breath, Max says his mother shot herself when he was a kid — and that he loves chocolate hot dogs.

And at that, I knew I would cry at this film’s seamless mix of weighty tragedy and the levity of uncomplicated perspective.

Writer/director Adam Elliot uses clay animation as a storytelling device perfectly — juxtaposing childlike figures with humorous imagery, unpretentious communication and heartbreak.

‘TEERS’ FOR FEARS: Max has Asperberg’s Syndrome, so he doesn’t quite know how to express his emotions. Mary sends him a jar of her tears, so he can know what it’s like to cry.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (rest in peace) and Toni Collette voice the title characters, and way to go. Every crack and rise of the voice further illuminated Mary and Max, their plights and their personal triumphs.

Props to director Elliot, too. I was so taken with this film’s production complexity — the wiry hair on Mary’s head, the detailed claymation water and the deliberate use of color.
Max’s New York is strictly black, white and gray, while Mary’s Australia is muddy, brown and sepia. Their color palettes change as they affect one another.

The only life in Max’s drab apartment is Mary’s self-portrait in crayon and a red pom-pom she made, which he wears on his yarmulke. Max’s black-and-white picture he sends her is a welcomed contrast to Mary’s murky home. And this directorial choice only reinforced this story.

“Mary and Max” is incredibly charming, smart and heavy-hitting. The claymation grabbed me from the get-go, and the story, in its poignant simplicity, held me until the last frame.
And I ugly-cried at its touching conclusion.

It’s so worth a watch.

Grade: A

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

INDIEWATCH: Love hurts — literally — in ‘Charlie Countryman’

In “Charlie Countryman,” Shia LaBeouf flies to Romania at the urging of his mother’s ghost after she dies in a Chicago hospital.

On the flight, he hits it off with Victor, who dies in his sleep hours later. His spirit asks Charlie to deliver a gift he purchased for his daughter, Gabriela.

At the airport, Charlie meets Gabriela (Evan Rachel Wood), and he’s immediately drawn to her. They go their separate ways, but through a couple of chance meetings, he falls in love with her.

I KNOW YOUR DAD’S DEAD, BUT YOU’RE WAY ENCHANTING: Evan Rachel Wood and Shia LaBeouf in “Charlie Countryman.”

Charlie soon meets Gabi’s ex-husband, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), who turns out to be the one sadistic hurdle to the girl of his dreams. “Charlie Countryman” leads viewers through his crusade to reach her.

One warning: This movie is not for everyone. There are a lot of brutal fisticuffs and one kind of gross hostage situation, but director Fredrik Bond weaves in the love story well with light touches of humor and music.

Hostel roommates Karl (Rupert Grint) and Luc (James Buckley) aid the levity. And a colorfully psychedelic high-on-ecstasy scene and a ridiculous altercation at a gentlemen’s club don’t hurt.

One solid pro to this film: Powerhouse performances all around.

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE: Broken nose, dislocated jaw and a herniated disc, but it’s all worth it for that smile.

Actress Wood expertly plays hard exterior with a wealth of emotion beneath — and props on a convincing Romanian accent. LaBeouf does vulnerable, eager and uneasily heroic like a champ, and I swear Mikkelsen (of NBC’s “Hannibal”) was made to portray villains with nuance and precision. And while this film was jam-packed with violence and action, I still wanted to see more of supporting players Melissa Leo, Vincent D’Onofrio and Aubrey Plaza.

One issue I had with film is the plot takes off at an almost melodramatic and unrealistic pace. Charlie’s been in Bucharest for two days, he’s inserted himself into a crime ring, he has a slew of henchmen chasing him, he’s getting knocked out left and right and he’s ready for more.

But that didn’t keep me from loving this movie.

“Charlie Countryman” sucked me in and held me with its story, its bright-on-gritty cinematography and its performances. I was completely engaged throughout, and when the closing credits scrolled up — like Charlie — I was ready for more.

It’s worth a watch.

Grade: B

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

INDIEWATCH: ‘20 Feet from Stardom’ puts backup singers front and center

Documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” showcases the sass and soul of backup singers from the doo-wop era to now through interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and the women whose voices complemented their work for decades.

But more than an inside view, this film takes a common belief — that backup singing is somewhat secondary to leading — and flips it on its head.

Writer/director Morgan Neville introduces The Blossoms, the first group to pave the way for female vocalists. Neville explores the insane list of songs they contributed to, which runs the gamut from Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” to Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash.”

DOO WOP: Darlene Love (middle) of the Blossoms would later rise to fame.

Blossoms standout Darlene Love later worked with and was professionally burned by musically renowned producer Phil Spector. (If they knew then what we know now…)
And that’s part of the allure of “20 Feet from Stardom.” It unfolds like a history lesson on American and British music that you can’t stop watching.

Director Neville interviews Springsteen and Sting, and viewers learn the story behind the Rolling Stones’ hit song, “Gimme Shelter” through Mick Jagger and Merry Clayton, the powerhouse singer whose voice made the song what it is.

At 2 a.m., Clayton got a call from “the Rolling somebodies.” She drove with them to the studio in her pajamas and ripped one of the most paramount hooks in rock history. Director Neville cuts to each artist listening to the song they created.

Merry Clayton and Mick Jagger listen to their harmony in The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

Watching their reactions — musing the history of a tune I grew up listening to — sent chills down my spine. And this film is full of moments like that.

“20 Feet” also follows background singers who tried, failed and succeeded at going solo and those who prefer to stay in an accompanying role. It offers insights into how they were treated from a dress code that “excites men” in the 60s to the freeing rock revolution of the 70s.

“Everyone was telling us we had to bring everything down, so when the rock ‘n’ roll world came and said ‘No, we want you to sing!’ — it saved us, it saved our lives,” said Gloria Jones. (Her resume includes working with T. Rex, Joe Cocker and Neil Young.)
“20 Feet” also looks at a band’s structural changes of the 90s and onward. While this film shows how the role of backup singing has changed, it doesn’t offer a prediction of the craft’s future.

This documentary covers a lot of ground, and I was engaged completely throughout. It won Best Documentary at the 2013 Oscars, and it’s well worth the nod.
Watch it.

Grade: A+

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.


INDIEWATCH: ‘Short Term 12′ leaves lasting impression

In “Short Term 12,” Grace (Brie Larson) supervises the wards and staff at a home for troubled teens alongside her boyfriend, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.).

She tells a staff newbie that the kids will try to test him at first to see what they can get away with, as she walks into a teen’s room to wake him with a water gun.

“You’re not their parent, you’re not their therapist, you’re here to create a safe environment and that’s it,” she says.

WET AWAKENING: Grace (Brie Larson) awakens a teen with a water gun in “Short Term 12.”

Grace, Mason and the staff play games with the kids and plan parties for teens who are aging out of the system. Grace seems to be the rock of the crew, as she addressed hardships with … well, grace.

During a community meeting, staff newbie Nate (Rami Malek) says he always wanted to work with underprivileged kids. This sets off Marcus (Lakeith Lee Stanfield), the oldest teen in the home. He gives Nate a death look and verbally attacks him, and I was worried there’d be a fight, but Grace manages to defuse the situation by sending Marcus to his room.

Later, she breaks up a physical altercation between Marcus and another teen. Afterward, Marcus is confrontational and aggressive, and Grace inherently knows where to switch tones and how to soothe with just enough authority.

Her knack for dealing with these teens stems from her personal experience as one of them, but Grace begins to unravel when a girl, who may have a similar past, enters the group home.

There’s a lot of hardship in this film, and it cuts deeper because it involves kids with abusive histories, but writer/director Destin Cretton balances this with the right touch of light-hearted humor.

Brie Larson (right) and Kaitlyn Dever in “Short Term 12.”

The staff carefully holds a teen’s arms during a semi-violent rage, where she shoves a birthday cupcake into Grace’s face. As she “de-escalates,” Mason lightly asks Grace how the cupcake tastes.

As a viewer, you’re thankful for a seamless comedic reprieve that doesn’t shatter the dramatic moment.

And the performances help make this film.

Brie Larson plays Grace subdued with a wealth of pain and emotion stirring beneath. (I’ve never seen Larson act so well.) John Gallagher Jr. is the perfect counterpart to her solemn demeanor as her animated partner with his own difficult past. And the child actors were just spot on.

“Short Term 12” arrested my attention from the first frame, and the ending had me ugly-crying at a level on par with “Life is Beautiful.”
It’s so worth a watch.

Grade: A

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.


INDIEWATCH: ‘Be a Man’ a filthy look at masculinity

In “How to Be a Man,” former comedian Mark (Gavin McInnes) posts a Facebook ad in search of a filmmaker to help him document life lessons for his unborn son. At his mother’s urging, Bryan (Liam Aiken) answers the ad and bites off more than he can chew.

They meet at a park for the first shoot, and Mark touts a sign that reads “not a pedophile,” as they film playground bullies. Into the camera, Mark shares ways to counter bullies and assert confidence. Their first shoot ends in an altercation with Mark and a pushy kid exchanging kicks to the groin.

LIKE ‘MY LIFE,’ BUT DIRTIER: Liam Aiken and Gavin McInnes in “How to Be a Man.”

Mark soon discloses they’re filming this because he’s dying of breast cancer.
“So, this film’s like ‘My Life’ with Michael Keaton?” Bryan asks dryly — my sentiments exactly — but “How to Be a Man” is much more vulgar than its 1993 predecessor.

Mark’s documentary quickly turns into an ongoing life lesson for Bryan, who’s an aimless 23-year-old with baggy clothes and unkempt hair. As Mark talks about how his son should dress to be taken seriously, he and Bryan embark on an obligatory makeover scene.

Later, Bryan films Mark miming how to properly wash his man parts, how to score coke and how to approach and please a woman — all pertinent info for men. Mark changes from a guy facing death to the quintessential anti-hero, leading Bryan down the road less traveled of drugs and crime.

This film somehow tries to put a light spin on it, but I wasn’t buying.

ICE CREAM AND HEROIN: Mark and Bryan rally to score some H.

On the flip side, “How to Be a Man” did offer some surprisingly funny moments.

As Mark quits his job, he rants about how he used to be on the “The Arsenio Hall Show.” When he storms out of the room, a younger exec asks, “What’s an arsenio? Is that …”

I laughed out loud.

In another scene, Mark and Bryan bust into a heroin house, and their entrance is offensive and somewhat ridiculously comical.

But mostly, “How to Be a Man” is lascivious and filthy. Normally, I’m not one to stray from comedy that pushes the boundaries, but this film breaks them in half for a worthless punch line. There was an opportunity for depth in this movie, but “How to Be a Man” answered with a fart joke — literally.

Grade: F

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

INDIEWATCH: ‘Now Is Good’ not so great

“Now Is Good” starts like any rebellious teen movie — a girl partying late with her bad-influence friend — but unlike other films, this girl is dying of cancer.

Before losing the battle to leukemia, Tessa (Dakota Fanning) is hell-bent on crossing items off of her bucket list, which includes having sex, stealing and doing drugs. But what writer/director Ol Parker makes clear through shots of her longingly staring at canoodling couples is what Tessa really wants is to fall in love.

As she waits, her rebellion wears on a bit predictably.

REBEL YELL: Tessa’s got her thievin’ face on.

She asks a radio DJ for tips to get drugs during an interview, she’s caught stealing and she hops a motorcycle with her neighbor, Adam, while her and her father (Paddy Considine) wait at a stoplight. This grows tiresome fast as director Parker peppers in flashes of Tessa’s family life.

Her father is “cancer-obsessed,” and her mother (Olivia Williams) is a bit flighty to say the least. “Now Is Good” finally picks up a bit when Adam (Josef Altin) enters.

He left college to recover from his dad’s death, and has since moved in with his mother. During a mushroom hallucination, Tessa confesses that the only time she doesn’t think about death is when she’s with him.

It was love at first trip.

I LOVE SHROOMS … AND U: Tessa professes her love of hallucinogens and the (literal) boy next door, Adam.

Fanning plays sassy with a blonde bob and British accent well. She’s hauntingly pixie-like and seems to have shed her child-actor exterior. Considine as Tessa’s father exudes caring, love and denial so well that I was consistently annoyed with her for putting him through the wringer. Actor Altin does his part as a dashing modern-day prince, and my heart went out to him.

Performances aside, “Now Is Good” had all of the elements for a solid coming-of-age reflection on life and death, but it didn’t quite deliver. It’s based off of novel “Before I Die,” by Jenny Downham, which may have been the better medium.

In this film, Tessa is written as very reactionary, allowing little to no time for character development or insight into her inner turmoil as a dying teen. This makes it difficult to empathize with her and see her as more than a defiant kid — and her character is so much more complicated.

If you stick to the end, “Now Is Good” makes up for this in performances and a focused meditation on life. But for an almost two-hour film about how precious time is, this may not be worth it.

Grade: D+

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

‘The Loving Story’ devles into landmark interracial marriage court case

“The Loving Story” documents the case that made mixed marriage legal in the U.S. brought on by the Lovings, Richard (a white man) and Mildred (a “colored” woman). They were banished from Virginia when they wed in 1958 in Washington, D.C.

At this time, interracial marriage was illegal in 24 states. This film tells the Lovings’ nine-year struggle for the right to stay husband and wife and return to their home state.

The real hook of “The Loving Story” is the dedication and love between Mildred and Richard.

“It was love at first sight. To marry someone and then have to go through all that they went through — it was nothing but love,” Mildred says in old footage.

Mildred and Richard Loving were banished from their home state, Virginia, for marrying outside of their races. “The Loving Story” looks at this monumental case in U.S. history.

Director Nancy Buirski shows several images of the Lovings’ admiration of one another. Richard, with a military-style buzz cut, is extremely affectionate with his wife — lying his head on her lap, hugging and kissing her. Mildred is shown as very soft-spoken, exuding a quiet elegance while staring into the face of adversity.

Buirski offers insight into this time in our history through interviews with Richard and Mildred’s children, Richard’s mother and southern white men and women reflecting on interracial marriage. Though, she’s smart to juxtapose this with information from historian Edward Ayers, of the University of Richmond.

He says segregation is fundamentally about sex, and it was designed to keep men and women of different races from temptation. “So, the more intimate a space was — a railroad car, a parlor, a restaurant, a school room —- the more likely it was to be segregated,” he says. “Ironically, the Loving case, being about love, being about sex, is actually what segregation was about all along.”

Prepare yourself for racial slurs and phrases such as “mongrel race,” but this film is quick to throw this mindset some sort of bone in that this case challenged racism and nonracists who were simply pro-establishment.

The Lovings.

One of the most interesting videos in “The Loving Story” shows Mildred, Richard and their attorneys, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop as they make a game plan for bail and charges if the couple is discovered “secretly cohabitating” in Virginia during court proceedings.

It’s difficult to watch this without an emotional reaction, as well as question if you’d have the same fortitude as the Lovings. Though, watching this, it’s interesting to note how society has progressed the past 60-plus years.

Though, this documentary does end a bit flatly.

Because the Lovings’ story and their court case may only be reflected upon by the attorneys who argued it, “The Loving Story” loses a bit of gusto, sentiment and reflection on civil rights. It would have been a much more powerful documentary had it been made five or six years earlier when Mildred was still alive.

That aside, “The Loving Story” offers an intelligent look at former injustices in the U.S. It’s still (kind of) worth a watch.

Grade: C

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

INDIEWATCH: ‘The Big Wedding’ a lightweight disappointment with heavy-hitters

“The Big Wedding” is now available on streaming, and for those who missed it in theaters, you may have saved some dough.

It stars Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro as ex-spouses, Ellie and Don, who reunite for their adopted son’s nuptials. The hitch is they have to pretend to still be married because their son’s biological mom is way religious.

It’s a pretty loose reason for a weekend of chaos, but “The Big Wedding” tries its hardest to make this charming to no avail. With a huge cast of star power — Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Amanda Seyfried — there are too many cooks in the kitchen in this modern family rom-com.

Katherine Heigl plays a borderline lush and Susan Sarandon “the other woman” in “The Big Wedding.”

Bebe (Sarandon) is Don’s live-in girlfriend of 10 years, Lyla (Heigl) is boozing from the stress of a failed marriage, and Jared (Grace) is a 30-year-old virgin who’s saving himself for love.

The tamest characters are soon-to-be wed Missy (Seyfried) and Alejandro (Ben Barnes), who fight to stay positive despite looming family drama. Robin Williams plays a Catholic priest caricature who heads the wedding ceremony, and his comedic genius seems a distant memory.

From the get go, “The Big Wedding” plays more off of its cast than its plot.

Ellie (Keaton) walks in on Don and Bebe on the cusp of cunnilingus, Lyla is so drunk she vomits on Don the first time she sees him and Jared (Grace) flips from successful doctor to raucous lothario as he pursues his adopted brother’s biological sister.

It plays out a bit like a soap opera that touts a lot of characters and a lot of shenanigans.

Don (Robert De Niro) gets decked by his live-in girlfriend in front of his ex-wife, Ellie (Diane Keaton) in “The Big Wedding,” now available on streaming.


The kicking-someone-under-the-table schtick is used often, and the actors seem a bit noncommittal throughout — save for Robert De Niro.

This Oscar-winning powerhouse delivers moments of depth in comedies “Stardust” and “Meet the Parents,” and it’s no different in “The Big Wedding.”

In one scene, Don and Lyla are reconciling their difficult father-daughter relationship, and De Niro has one pure moment of grief and conflict, that made me nearly tear up.

Except for that, the acting in this film is ho-hum, though “The Big Wedding” does a decent job of sets and clothing — bright and light. The music definitely matches this film’s candid tone, though sometimes overpowering during scenes of hijinks.

“The Big Wedding” looks like a cute family movie, but it has a hard R rating with a lot of swearing and sexual content. If you’re in the mood for a silly escape in lieu of another blizzard, this may work for you, though, I hate to admit, “The Big Wedding” did nothing for me.

Grade: F

Available: Amazon Prime, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

INDIEWATCH: No life in ‘Dead Man Down’

Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star in “Dead Man Down,” a movie with delusions of grandeur of Shakespearean proportions.

Victor (Farrell) saves his boss, crime-lord Alphonse (Terrence Howard), during a shake-up, where Alphonse accuses a thug of sending mysterious threats in the mail. We quickly find out — in the silliest of ways —- that Victor is behind the death notes.

Victor’s across-the-street neighbor, Beatrice, talks him into a date, and afterward, leads him to the door of the man who disfigured her in a drunken driving accident. Beatrice says she’ll use a video she took of Victor strangling someone in his apartment as blackmail unless he kills the man responsible for her plight.

Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace fall in weird, vengeful love in “Dead Man Down.”

This is the most heavy-hitting scene of “Dead Man Down.” Actress Rapace goes from 0 to 100 in 20 seconds, as does this movie that’s all about the heat of vengeance.

Beatrice seeks retribution for her disfigurement, and Victor’s lust for blood stems from the loss of his wife and daughter at the call of Alphonse. Rapace and Farrell play their parts at a level that feels sedated compared to previous roles, and they reveal their deepest motivations at an almost comical pace.

On their second meeting, Victor, who has been orchestrating Alphonse’s demise for years, dumps everything on Beatrice in a matter of minutes. Beatrice follows Victor on his various raids around town. Their connection cements, but the execution feels implausible. The rest of “Dead Man Down” plays out a bit predictably and melodramatically, as Beatrice and Victor fall in love that may or may not be consummated.

Terrence Howard fails to bring the pain as a crime lord in “Dead Man Down.”

Supporting players are a bit wasted. Terrence Howard doesn’t deliver as a crime boss. French mega-actress Isabelle Huppert stands in as Beatrice’s live-in mother, and Dominic Cooper stumbles about as Darcy, Victor’s gangster sidekick who’s trying to solve the mail mystery for Alphonse. Huppert is a powerhouse actress, but there was little to no time for her to shine. Actor Cooper did his part, which culminates in a standoff between him and Victor that falls flat.

“Dead Man Down” may lack a bit in plot execution, but I was taken with the set designs and music. Victor and Beatrice’s apartments felt foreign, and that made their crime world feel like a slight throwback to “The Professional.” Props for the music selected as a backdrop to action sequences, which director Niels Arden Oplev did pretty up to par. Aside from that, I wasn’t thrilled with this film.

“Dead Man Down” has a solid idea: Two seek redemption with vengeance-heavy hearts. But clocking in at almost two hours, the film doesn’t develop this enough for a viewer to invest in their fates. And personally, I checked out about an hour in.

Grade: D+

 Available: Amazon Prime (purchase), Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.