David wakes up in a hospital without a clue as to why he got there, all he knows is that someone is after him. Little by little his memory comes back to him and he remembers being caught in the middle of an execution between criminals, but he and his girlfriend ended up being the victims. Now he fights back.
It's not easy for me to be impressed by these low budget action films. Not only because it's not my genre (although I love some great films from it), but they always seem to make similar mistakes. The biggest one is that they want to remain true to what makes the classic action films great, but have their own little twist to it. "The Prodigy" is a good example of one that worked out excellent. "Dragonetti: The Ruthless Contract Killer" is one that failed miserably (no matter what the intentions were). "Död vid ankomst" is somewhere between the two I just mentioned. Not so much plotwise, you can just take any revenge film and add some psychological twists for that, but I believe it's cut from the same cloth as the two.
We have the story of a man who wakes up in the hospital, and has just lost his girlfriend. The two were on a romantic vacation and got into the middle of some criminal activities, and one of them (David) ended up injured in the head, the other one (Maria) was shot dead. Yadda, yadda, yadda, and then David seeks revenge while puzzling together the events that happened. Which ultimately is there to make the story original and worthwhile by twisting things when we think we have it figure out. Adding twists to an already confusing film can be lethal, but I don't think this one suffered too much from the twists.
The best part of the story is to me when he is puzzling together the past. It sometimes makes us question what is real in the present, what is in his head, and what is a memory. There are some well-crafted scenes that basicly merges the past and present with the editing. This is something that became very important to the movie to keep it from being too typical. It's still fairly unoriginal, but at least it gives us some entertainment in putting pieces together.
It doesn't matter what film you are making, you are bound to be inspired by other films. There is nothing at all wrong with that, and by default I don't have a problem with characters referencing movie titles or quoting the films. By default I mean that the idea of doing it is fine, but it's such a thin line between making it a great addition the the story or characters, and being fucking annoying about it. There's just something about having characters bring up movie titles in their dialog that bothers me because it just feels like a way for the filmmaker to either tell us the influences, or just what he likes (sometimes it's even to brag about knowledge about the film, which is silly). Clearly, being a horror movie fan, I should get used to it happening, but I just can't. And "Död vid ankomst" quotes movies and brings up titles. Not all bad, but was it needed? And then of course it does a few clichées but tries to justify them by having the character say something to make it self-aware. (When he could've shot the other person: "And miss all the fun?", or when the gun goes "click" the other one says he's stupid for not thinking of such a cliché.)
What else is there to bring up? Acting isn't terrible, some of them do a great job. I think there are some unintentionally cheesy moments, but it's fine. It could've been a lot worse.
The action consists mostly of shooting. There are some headshots and other bullet wounds in the film, and they are a mixture of practical and CGI. They look exactly like most Swedish independent films do right now, to be honest. I'm not sure what kind of trend it is, what program it is, or who is teaching them, but when they get shot it looks exactly the same in these films. It's small uses of CGI, really. Use can notice it, but it's not a problem.
Overall, "Död vid ankomst" isn't a great movie but it has some fun elements to it. It's far from the worst independent action film I've seen, but it's not a memorable one. Other than bits of the psychological approach it has, it's a standard action film. I really don't know if I should recommend it or not, there are certainly other films I think are worth checking out first. I wanna see the next film by them, "Syner", as I'm sure that one will appeal to me much more.