The Horror of an Avenging Mind
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While the current trend in scary movies seems to be becoming the property of the Computer Generated Graphics industry, real terror comes from studying the possibilities of a human mind scarred by trauma. Such is the material that makes ALREADY DEAD a frightening film - a revenge story by Robert Lynn Archer transformed for the screen by Joe Chappelle and directed imaginatively by Joe Otting. If the theme of a citizen taking justice into his own hands is not new, it wears well enough when we consider the current state of criminal justice as portrayed in the media today.
Thomas Archer (Ron Eldard) is living a successful, happy life until a burglary associated with the death of the babysitter and his son and the beating of his wife disrupts everything. Thomas is informed that the police don't have the manpower to investigate the killings, a fact that further enrages Thomas who is unable to work or function in his grief state. He is referred to a therapist Dr. Heller (Christopher Plummer) who oddly counsels him that perhaps the only way Thomas can get on with his life is to do everything in his power to track the killer down on his own. 'Arrangements' are made with a group of men (mostly frustrated cops) who inform Thomas that for a large fee they will take him to the killer and he can act on his vengeance. Transported by cellphone instructions to a deserted warehouse, Thomas encounters a bound and gagged man (Til Schweiger) who he is told is the killer of his son. Thomas begins his torture of the man only to gradually discover that the man does not bear the arm tattoo Thomas had clearly seen on the perpetrator. Dr. Heller is called to the scene and encourages Thomas to kill the suspect, but Thomas has enough doubt that he frees the suspect and together they begin a terrifying journey out of the maze-like warehouse. The ending may not come as a complete surprise, but it is the telling of the story as basically a character study between the two men that makes the film powerful.
Both Ron Eldard and Til Schweiger are completely convincing in their not so disparate roles: they both have very strong screen presences and with minimal dialog manage to take us, the audience, along with this creepy 'game'. There is some violence to be sure, but the terror of the film emanates more from the interaction of Eldard and Schweiger, each showing the extremes the bruised psyche can display. Not a great film but a film far above the routine 'horror picture' category. Grady Harp, March 08"
This Is Not A 5-Star Movie
Thomas Beck | Mechanicsburg, PA | 03/17/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I really live or die by Amazon reviews. 99% of the time, they are spot on. I felt like I was burned a bit by the reviews on this one.
I should have been a bit suspicious when a movie that never even made it to the box office (mainstream, independent, or otherwise) was holding down a 5 star rating on Amazon. Some of the sites that I normally rely on for movie ratings didn't even cover this movie since it didn't get a lot of press and didn't get any reviews by national or regional critics.
The majority of reviews that I read seemed held back on information so as not to give the "plot turns" away. Let me lay it out for you, there are no real plot turns so don't hold your breath waiting for any. Once you get past the opening scenes and understand the premise of the film, it quickly degrades into a typical Hollywood action / adventure type flick. That said, this is no worse than a lot of the trash that Hollywood releases to fill the theaters during the peak summer movie months. In some cases (pick most any action film on installment 3 or greater), it's actually better.
"Already Dead" is a 2-3 star movie that might be worth the low price you pay for the rental at Unboxed or your local retail outlet. Don't go in expecting too much though. There's a reason this didn't get picked up for mainstream distribution."
DEATH WISH WITH A TWIST
Mark Turner | 01/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you did nothing but look at the description of this film on the cover you'd think you were getting a rehash of DEATH WISH or DEATH SENTENCE. But you'd be wrong. This movie takes that idea of revenge on someone who has harmed or killed your family and turns it on its ear.
Ron Eldard starts as a successful architect who comes home one night with his wife to find the baby sitter dead and his son on the floor of his room. When he goes in, the killer attacks him, leaving him drifting into unconsciousness as his son dies and attacking his wife.
Scarred by the loss of their child and unable to cope with the stress it puts on both his wife and himself, he takes his frustrations out on the detective who lets him know there is little chance of finding the killer. To avoid jail time, Eldard agrees to see a counselor who handles cases like these (Christopher Plummer).
After several sessions nothing has changed. As he tells Plummer about his frustrations at not being able to move on, at his inability to do nothing more than want revenge for what happened to his family, Plummer presents him with an offer. It seems he has connections with a group that is willing to track down the killer and place him in a secluded location for Eldard to take his revenge upon for a fee. He bites at the chance and that's where we begin the film via flashbacks and flash forwards.
Alone in the room, the film takes on a HOSTEL atmosphere with dirty room and rusted out equipment with which to torture someone. Eldard begins that way, pounding on the man strapped and gagged in a chair in the center of the room. But as he looks at him, he notices that the tattoo he now recalls on the killer's forearm isn't there. Told not to deviate from the plan or suffer the consequences, he does so anyway.
He takes the gag off of the man and the two begin to talk. Plummer is called in and tells him to stick with the plan so he doesn't get himself killed. But Eldard is unconvinced this is the man and the pair take off on their own, one step ahead of the organizers who are dead set on making sure that neither one now lives to tell the tale.
The initial thought that brings this film home is one of what would you do? Would you seek out the person responsible for this tragedy? Would you then torture this person in an attempt at revenge? Would you be so blinded by rage that you didn't care to know if it really was the killer or not? Or would you make certain that it was and if not, do all you could in your power to free this victim.
The movie is a taut thriller that brings all of these ideas into the mix. The innocence of guilt of the man in question is brought up throughout. While he may be innocent of Eldard's son's murder, he may be responsible for others. Is it a release to simply kill someone or do they have to be guilty before you can do so?
The film looks great with clean images that are disturbing and yet draw you in at the same time. Eldard does a great job and proves why he is one of the most underrated actors working today. Til Schweiger also does a great job as the man Eldard is set to kill. Plummer does his usual stand up job (can the man turn in a bad performance no matter what?).
All in all this movie does a great job of keeping you in suspense until the very last moment. The result of the hunt it becomes is both satisfying and rings true. If you're looking for fast paced action then look no further than this one. Forget the fact that it never made it to a slew of chain theaters. For some reason while they local megaplex felt the need to put the hottest new release in 10 out of 20 screens, this one got overlooked. That's one of the benefits of DVD. You get the chance to see good films that otherwise might have been lost.
Two thumbs up !
Guy Campeau | Stoneham, Québec Canada | 01/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very good movie, great acting, intelligent thriller. Very entertaining and I would recommanded it to anyone. Watch it, you won't regret."