The Salvation (2015)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Kristian Levring
Written by: Anders Thomas Jensen, Kristian Levring.
Produced by: Zentropa Entertainments, Forward Films, Spier Films.
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Cantona, Mikael Persbrandt, Jonathan Pryce.
A lot can be said for a Western that is willing to embrace its roots. A film like THE SALVATION just doesn’t get made that often anymore, while it isn’t perfect, it is welcome. It's a shame the thing didn’t get a theatrical release, as it seems as though it could have sustained one. Mads Mikkelsen had the pure talent here to be a serious movie star, the fact that it hasn’t happened yet remains baffling.
Jon (Mikkelsen) is a Danish immigrant who has moved to America during the time of the Wild West in search of success with his brother (Mikael Persbrandt). His wife and son come to see him seven years into his search. Later that night they are captured by bandits, with Jon’s wife and son being murdered. Jon tracks down those bandits and kills them which makes the brother of one of said bandits (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) set out for blood.
This film is closer to a Spaghetti Western you’d have seen Clint Eastwood star in or alternatively Sam Peckinpah or Don Siegel direct. It’s pulpy, concise, and riddled with bullets. One thing about the film I thought was fun was how the greenscreen would look obvious in several shots. I doubt this was intentional, but it adds to the charm and the old school appeal.
Mads Mikkelsen is excellent too, he, not unlike Eastwood can communicate a great deal of emotion by saying very little. This is one guy that more people should know about, whether its THE SALVATION, 2013′s excellent THE HUNT, or NBC’s HANNIBAL. The choice to cast him is stupendous too, it allows for THE SALVATION to work on two levels, as a pulpy western, and as an immigrant story.
If there is a flaw, its in how the film uses Eva Green. Green is a talented actress, who stole the show in everything she was in last year. Director Kristian Levring casts her here as a mute, which I think is a real waste of her talents. The performance is still pretty good, Green has very expressive features, but I think it could have been so much better.
THE SALVATION is a cool movie. If you’re sick of all the superhero films and just want to watch a good, modern western that puts embracing its genre roots above all else, than this movie is well worth checking out. There’s not really much more to be said, the film works, check it out.