The Salvation (2014) Film Review from the 58th Annual BFI London Film Festival, a movie directed by Kristian Levring, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Michael Raymond-Jones, Alexander Arnold, Sean Michael, Douglas Henshall, Eric Cantona, Toke Lars Bjarke, David James, Nick Boraine, Susan Danford, and Robert Hobbs.
Being a fan of Mads Mikkelsen, I was eager to see his latest project. I’d hoped this film would be a way for him to showcase his wide acting range. His poise, charisma, and confident manner give him a unique and distinguished look. Whether he’s torturing the world’s most famous spy or cooking up gourmet dishes with the most peculiar ingredients, Mikkelsen’s acting is always on point, and this performance delivered as expected.
Mikkelsen plays Jon, our lead. Jon has been in the American West for eight years, living in a town run by a powerless mayor and a weak sheriff. Everyone knows where the real power lies, and it’s not in the hands of any ‘officials’. Part of what makes this film fun to watch is the ease with which each interaction occurs. There’s a certain amount of believability, nothing is sugar-coated, and violence isn’t censored to accommodate a lite-stomached audience. This film hinges on the border of pulp without ever diving into it. The dialogue is well-written and admirably performed.
There’s something for everyone. This is by no-means a purely dialogue filled film, there are scenes that would make any lover of Westerns sit up and admire what’s going on in front of them. It would be appropriate to say the director got his inspiration from classic Westerns. The film had a Sergio Leone feel to it, I almost expected Clint Eastwood to pop out and make a cameo, alas that was not to be.
Eva Green is also among the fantastic cast. She plays a mute. A role that many would have struggled with, but Green played with an ease that would be hard to match. I’ve always felt that eyes are more expressive than anything else, and Eva’s green eyes could act out a play. She let her actions speak, with every glance and held look an indication that there is a mystery behind her supposedly innocent character. No one and I mean NO-ONE plays mysterious like Eva Green.
A compelling story laced with beautiful visuals and interesting characters make this film one of my favourites for the year. However, there are certain parts of the film that I think should have been expanded upon. For instance, Jon’s migrant nature was hardly touched upon; they could have made it a bigger deal than it turned out to be-they could have just made him American and it would have had no influence on the film. I thought the whole point of having him be different was to use that in some way but it was almost entirely not the case. Also, the explanation given as to why the ‘bad guy’ Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is tolerated by the town’s people was weak to say the least. It just seems a shame to have a film as good as this be dogged by overlooked errors.
Having said all that, this film is still worth watching. I’m sure fans of Mikkelsen will flock to see this film, I hope others join them. It may linger here and there but I think it’s worth sticking around for the whole thing.
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