The Salvation – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review
I was intrigued by this Danish western (which kind of sounds like a breakfast combo), not only because I like westerns, but also because star Mads Mikkelsen has been getting favourable reviews in just about everything he has done. He was Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, he’s Hannibal Lecter on Hannibal, and he was One Eye in Valhalla Rising. I liked him in that, it was a very gritty, rather violent film and thought after seeing the trailer and hearing the summary of The Salvation that it would be a similarly enjoyable watch. When I read the back of the DVD case, The Salvation sounded an awful lot like High Plains Drifter, the 1973 Clint Eastwood western.
In Drifter, Eastwood plays a gunfighter who comes to a town and is hired by the cowardly citizens to fight off a band of outlaws who are coming to wreak vengeance on them. In Salvation, Mikkelsen is a settler but also a former soldier from Denmark who kills his family’s murderer which unleashes the fury of a notorious gang leader. His cowardly fellow townspeople then betray him, forcing him to hunt down the outlaws alone. At least that’s what the box says. And while that’s pretty much how the story unfolds, they don’t mention that the town is actually run by the outlaws, and the townsfolk really don’t see any need to change it. So in ways, I was happy that the story wasn’t just a straight rehash of Drifter, and did offer me something I hadn’t really seen before, but it was also a little disappointing because I had worked the film up in my own mind ahead of time with those comparisons already in place.
Did I enjoy The Salvation? Yes, I suppose I did, but I did find it lacking in a lot of areas. To me, this seemed like the 300 of westerns. It seemed too much emphasis was being put on the atmosphere and the mood of the story and not enough attention was being given to the story itself. The background scenery seemed too fake and green screen-y, which did make some scenes really “pop” off the screen, but then I started to think that was being done to cover up the thin story. Westerns are difficult to make these days, and good westerns are incredibly difficult to make. The filmmakers deserve full credit for their effort, as do the actors. It was certainly a very interesting take on a very American genre when you consider this film is not American made. There was very little dialogue to the film — there was even a mute character (Eva Green) — which may put off some viewers. Possibly a little more exposition would have helped to build the story up more.
Bottom Line: After watching The Salvation, I really wanted to rewatch High Plains Drifter but I was a little surprised it wasn’t in my Clint Eastwood 35 Films 35 Films box set, as it was the second film he directed….don’t worry, Pink Cadillac made it to the collection though…
Posted on 15-09-09, in 3 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged Danish, Eva Green, High Plains Drifter, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jonathan Pryce, Mads Mikkelsen, The Salvation, western. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.