Friday, February 25, 2022

#2,714. The Salvation (2014) - 21st Century Westerns Triple Feature


An American western produced in Denmark and shot in South Africa, director Kristian Levring’s The Salvation is a gritty, hard-hitting revenge movie that, right out of the gate, punches you square in the gut.

The year is 1871. After avenging the murder of his wife (Nanna Øland Fabricius) and son (Toke Lars Bjarke) by gunning down their killer, Danish soldier turned American settler Jon Jensen (Mads Mikkelsen) finds himself a wanted man.

It seems the slimeball that murdered his family, a recently released outlaw named Paul Delarue (Michael Raymond-James), was the brother of Henry Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a former Cavalry officer and the most powerful man in the territory. After taking his anger out on the residents of the small community of Black Rock, Henry Delarue orders the town’s Mayor (Jonathan Pryce) and Sheriff (Douglas Henshaw) to find his brother’s killer while at the same time promising his now-widowed sister-in-law, a mute known only as “Princess” (Eva Green), that the man who gunned down Paul will soon be brought to justice.

But when Jon’s back is against the wall, he and his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt) decide to make a stand against the tyrannical Delarue, leading to a showdown of epic proportions.

The opening scene in which Jon is reunited with his wife and son is immediately followed by their murder, and it gets The Salvation off to an incredibly tense start. From there on, director Levring never lets us off the hook, delivering one blood-soaked encounter after another, often with the innocent serving as victims; when the sheriff doesn’t find his brother’s killer quickly enough, Delarue guns down several citizens of Black Rock in cold blood.

Mikkelsen is outstanding as the grieving husband and father who has no problem exacting a little frontier justice, and Morgan is equally superb as the villainous Delarue, whose penchant for violence makes him a formidable foe. The supporting cast is also good, with Pryce turning in a nuanced performance as the Mayor who does what Delarue tells him to do, but it’s Eva Green as the mute Princess (her tongue was cut out by Native Americans when she was a child) who steals the show; a late scene, where she also betrays Delarue, is one of the film’s high points.

While it doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table, The Salvation is so good at what it does deliver that you won’t want to miss it.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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