The Salvation


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Salvation
"War by any other name"

Waiting for a train in the dust blown prairie light resonates images from Once Upon A Time In The West and High Noon. This is how Kristian Levring's Danish Western begins. What follows makes Unforgiven look repressed.

It would be easy to label the film "old school" with its tale of vengeance against a frontier community living in fear of the cattle baron's outriders, except in this case the cattle baron is a gunslinger offering protection like in later gangster movies when refusal to pay incited violence, or a bullet in the brain.

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Everything is in place, the salon, the dirt street, the jail, but it's different this time, different in subtle ways. The saloon doubles as a convenience store, the sheriff is the opposite of Wyatt Earp and the mayor is the undertaker.

The mysterious stranger who rides out of nowhere to save the town, like Shane, is a Nordic immigrant (Mads Mikkelsen) who has been working a farmstead with his brother for eight years. When his wife and son arrive from Denmark they are caught up in a deadly fracas with the gunslinger's brother, recently released from prison.

And so the scene is set. The scene you have come to expect. War by any other name. One man vs a posse of ill shaven extras. A repeater rifle, a sharp blade, a sixshooter against men on horseback, snipers on rooftops and a boss hog rabid for revenge.

What are the odds?

It's not that kind of contest. Visually the film feel fresh, despite borrowing from Gunfight At The OK Corral. Fashionably bloody, Levring's dark and daring approach pays off. Even the CEO of Slash & Burn B-Pictures Inc, Quentin Tarantino, won't be disappointed.

At the throat of the action is Mikkelsen, an actor of supreme confidence. If you know him only as the baddie in a Bond film, you have no idea how good he is. He has the perfect looks for dangerous times, eagle sharp and ever watchful, a tribute to the Western myth.

Reviewed on: 16 Apr 2015
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The Salvation packshot
A man who kills his family's murderer faces the wrath of a violent gang - with nobody to help him.
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Read more The Salvation reviews:

Luke Shaw ***
Owen Van Spall ***

Director: Kristian Levring

Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen, Kristian Levring

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Cantona, Douglas Henshall, Jonathan Pryce, Michael Persbrandt, Michael Raymond-James, Sean Cameron Michael

Year: 2014

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Denmark, UK, South Africa

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