This is a new western by Danish director Kristian Levring which features fellow Dane Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, he currently plays Hannibal Lecter in the series Hannibal.
The plot centers around a Danish army veteran, played by Mikkelsen, who has come to America to start a life for his wife, and the son whom he has never met. After seven years he is finally joined by his family, but his life is irrevocably changed by their brutal murders. He quickly avenges his loved ones by killing the perpetrators. Unfortunately for Mikkelsen one of the men turns out to be the brother of a wealthy land owner. This role is taken by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is quite frankly unhinged, to say the least. What follows is a battle between Mikkelsen, Dean Morgan and his assorted henchmen.
The cast includes Eva Green as a character with no tongue, who despite this notable handicap produces the best performance in the film, conveying much with her eyes. A most welcome surprise is the addition of soccer legend Eric Cantona as Dean Morgan’s right hand man. Disappointingly he says little, but is quite memorable nonetheless. Also scoring well are Jonathan Pryce as the rather unscrupulous Mayor/ undertaker and Douglas Henshall who enjoys the rather odd coupling of being both minister and sheriff.
The film is shot in a rather strange style, which includes some unusual first person perspectives. The best way I can describe the style is to compare it to the dream sequences from Gladiator.
Upon watching the film I was surprised to find that it only received a (15a) certificate. The movie is quite violent and certainly does not stint on the body count or the gruesome headshots. This is not a fun film in any sense – even black humour has no place here. The Salvation also has a gnawing undertone of unease that lingers throughout its 92minute running time.
Overall, I highly recommend this Western. The acting of the largely European cast, the music and the stunning cinematography are all very worthwhile. On the other hand, parts of the film suffer from cliche and certain characters are not given enough screen time, especially the brilliant Mikael Persbrandt, who portrays Mikkelsen’s brother. I was going to give the movie four stars but I am deducting half a star for these faults. For unknown reasons Westerns are not very popular, but please do not let this one ride off into the sunset alone.