THE SALVATION (2015)
Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mikael Persbrandt, Jonathan Pryce
Directed by Kristian Levring
If they made as many westerns as they do superhero movies I'd be a happy camper. The latest in the genre is a Danish entry filmed in South Africa which doubles for 1871 America.
Mads Mikkelsen plays Jon, a former Danish soldier turned American settler, who is reunited with his wife and 10-year-old son after leaving them back home 7 years ago so, together with his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), he could build a homestead for his family in the small town of Black Creek.
After meeting his family at the train station, the 3 are forced to share a stagecoach with 2 men who turn out to be hoodlums that work for local gang leader, Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). During the ride home the men end up throwing Jon off the stagecoach and after raping his wife, they kill both her and Jon's son.
Eventually Jon finds the men, shoots and kills them, and recovers his family's bodies. One of the men was the brother of Delarue, who in turn kills four random townsfolk to avenge his brother's death. Jonathan Pryce plays the town's mayor and undertaker who cowers to Delarue, and together with the local sheriff/reverend (Douglas Henshall), the two go after Jon to deliver him to the evil leader, despite knowing Jon's wife and son were killed by Delarue's brother.
"The Salvation" recalls those great Eastwood westerns like "Unforgiven" and "High Plains Drifter" and the cinematography by Jens Schlosser, coupled with some CGI effects, give the film an ethereal look especially the scenes at dusk. Also of note is the soundtrack by composer Kasper Winding which goes from atmospheric guitar to full on orchestration, a perfect match for the film.
I don't think I have ever found fault with any performance by Mads Mikkelsen who picked up a lot of fans after portraying Dr. Hannibal Lector on TV. Like Eastwood, his rugged face and good looks combine to make him the quintessential hero. His performance is solid and so is that of Eva Green as Madelaine (nicknamed Princess) who doesn't speak a word in the film. Her character's tongue was cut out by Indians and she has a scar across her lip. Green effortlessly conveys her emotions through her facial expressions and those piercing eyes.
The body count is high and the film's finale is both satisfying and action-packed. Cheers to the Danish for the latest entry in a genre that doesn't get much love these days.