The Salvation (2015)
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Eric Cantona, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jonathan Pryce, Douglas Henshall
Directed By: Kristian Levring
Written By: Kristian Levring, Anders Thomas Jensen
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 32 min
The Salvation looks like a western, and sounds like a western. It’s got outlaws, cowboys, six-shooters, dusty plains and a Sheriff (got a badge and everything). So it must be a western, right?
Well, it is and it isn’t. It certainly looks the part, as the camera swoops and pans around stylishly lit sets and slick action set pieces. But in a way that felt very conscious of itself. Which I’ll admit might not make a whole lot of sense, so let me try to explain that another way. The Salvation didn’t feel very authentic.
Sure, it was brutal depiction of late 19th century America, and did a nice job in the opening act to establish its central hero, Jon Jensen (Mads Mikkelsen), and give him a genuine axe to grind. But at every turn after that, this film felt like a shallow impression of the wild west. Perhaps because this was directed and co-written by Danish filmmaker, Kristian Levring.
An outsiders perspective on a uniquely American born genre however, can be refreshing sometimes. But when your characters and situations are merely a collection of movie tropes, all the slick camera work and stylish photography in the world isn’t going to save your production if it doesn’t make much sense. If for example, certain key character’s behave in a way contrary to what we know of them. Not because they had some legitimate motivation for doing so, but only to move the story forward. Leaving the audience with the option to further suspend disbelief and make up the details, or just give up completely and right the film off as a waste of 92 minutes of their lives.
In the final analysis, there were (for me at least) too many moments where characters made odd decisions, or behaved in a way that serviced the plot instead of character. These moments were a constant distraction, and I was unable to settle in and fully relax with this piece of movie entertainment.
This western opens well, and Mads Mikkelsen is very good in the lead role. Its finale is also decently arranged, but very predictable. This movie is rated R for violence.
This is a slickly shot film, but let down by some odd-looking CGI effects. A HD screening on your nice big TV at home will service this film well enough.
I didn’t enjoy this film all that much, but I did appreciate Mads Mikkelsen’s performance. Nice to see him play the hero for once.