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The Salvation

The Salvation

Released 17 April 2015
Director Kristian Levring

Mads Mikkelsen Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Cantona, Mikael Persbrandt, Douglas Henshall, Michael Raymond-James, Jonathan Pryce

Anders Thomas Jensen, Kristian Levring
Producer(s) Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Denmark, United Kingdom, South Africa, Sweden, Belgium
Running Time 92 minutes
Genre Drama, western
Rating 15A

Revenge of the Western.

When you look at the evolution of movie genres, the Western is perhaps the one that has undergone the biggest change over time. In their heyday, the cowboy pictures would fill matinee screenings with children hollering support for their heroes as they fought cruel and violent hordes of Indians. With time and historical hindsight, the “Cowboy and Indian” films faded away, leaving in their place a genre in which the biggest threat to American settlers was not the natives whose land they encroached upon but their ruthless neighbours. The Salvation follows in the tradition of this modern western; it is full of grit, tragedy and violence, yet not heavy on originality.

Mads Mikkelsen (an actor who I would watch in pretty much anything) plays Jon, a Danish man who has settled in America with his elder brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt) after years of war against Prussia has torn apart his homeland. We meet Jon on the day his wife and young son arrive to join him after seven years of separation. The family are overjoyed to see each other but tragedy strikes when their stagecoach journey turns violent and Jon finds himself pit against local despot Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in a game of brutal revenge.

Director Kristian Levring doesn't play around with the genre too much, in fact the film is innovative only in terms of its visuals. The Salvation has a striking colour palette, which when mixed with extremes of light and dark, give the film a moody, foreboding atmosphere that is striking to watch. Having said that, if you've seen any Westerns, or indeed any revenge films before, you'll know exactly where we're headed here. Nevertheless, the performances are all sterling and the film has a pleasing economy, both in its running time and in its dialogue. Alongside the central pairing of the brothers (both excellent), Jeffrey Dean Morgan finds the role he was born to play as smiling psychopath Delarue – the old West suits him. Eva Green as mute femme fatale Madelaine, does some top notch work with only smouldering glares to work with.

For Western fans, The Salvation is a bit of a mixed blessing – a well-made, gritty trip to the old West that follows in the footsteps of the classics but doesn't necessarily add anything intriguingly new into the mix.

- Linda O'Brien