Shane Meadows previously worked with Paddy Considine in the criminally underseen “A Room for Romeo Brass.” Considine is a man capable of playing many things, and someone without much of a mental balance is probably his best character yet. Paddy Considine is admittedly one of the most unorthodox choices for the lead in a very dramatic and powerful revenge thriller, but he’s a man who can lend a lot of menace and terror to someone who doesn’t quite look like someone who’d knock heads. When he first meets the men that tormented his younger brother, he lays the fear of God in to them by merely glaring at them when they attempt to crowd him. One scene even finds him rattle a power drunk thug in the middle of a crowded bar.
Considine has mostly been relegated to character acting roles in America but is utilized to great effect in “Dead Man’s Shoes” as this man who begins as a justified and angry relative who slowly but surely becomes the enemy in his own tale. As Richard, Considine is an unbalanced and brutally flawed anti-hero with his own personal demons. 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 vicious death. Using his ability to intimidate as well as his knowledge of warfare, he wages a war against the gang that’s less guns blazing and more psychological and gruesome, in the end.
Most revenge tales play out with our protagonist fully in the right of the scenario involving a tormented loved one, but David is a tough nut to crack. He’s kind of a bastard before his tale, and he’s kind of a bastard when it all ends. Director Shane Meadows’ revenge thriller is an often overlooked and unnerving gem that deserves a better and more thorough appreciation if only for Considine subverting the idea of the avenging individual who is more so a soldier still reeling from war who brings the insanity and violence to his home. Considine’s turn as Richard is utterly frightening as he enacts his wrath without pause, or remorse. 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.
As the story progresses, though, the incidents become darker and darker until people start turning up dead. Director Meadows never betrays his own story, and side steps an action movie clichés, instead exploring the inherent lunacy behind the violence Richard unleashes. I love “Dead Man’s Shoes,” and Considine handles his performance with perfect precision, and only adds to what is a very unique tale of revenge and perceptions of black and white morality.