The Salvation Screen 13 articles

The Salvation


The Salvation Poster
  • There’s no visual or verbal wit. There’s no suspense, either. The nighttime scenes look as if someone pressed a button on an expensive camera at high noon, and Eva Green plays a woman whose tongue’s been ripped out. Thankfully, she can still shoot a gun. The Europeans I’ve run into really responded to it. Any movie with Mikkelsen, Morgan, and Green that can’t get a rise out of me hasn’t done its job. It’s a SpaghettiOs western.

  • While the deserts of Spain stimulated Sergio Leone toward epic innovation, no such inspiration appears to have struck Kristian Levring, a Dogme veteran who abandons all of the movement's rules for this dry, unimaginatively assembled fable. Avoiding any insight whatsoever into the lives of 19th-century Danish immigrants, the film uses its émigré characters as mere setup for another monotonous revenge saga, a tale of corruption and retribution that's almost entirely constructed from clichés.

  • The film becomes a paint (with blood) by numbers exercise, without a plot beat that hasn’t been seen before or better. Even the characters seem aware of it: in the “annoy the jail guard to get his key” scene, the dialogue is delivered monotonously, as though part of a daily routine and not a risky tactic. The film is too simple to work as drama, too ugly to work as action, and too humorless to be any fun.

  • The Salvation has style to burn, but it's of a distancing sort that affirms the film as a simulation of a simulation. Set in 1870s America, this brutal western is clearly taken with the work of John Ford, Sergio Leone, and the Michael Cimino of Heaven's Gate, running their brands of myth-making through a modern blender of gauzy cinematography that often likens the images to animation. Every shot is as wide as possible, even if its subject calls for intimacy.

  • Emphasizing action over the spoken word, The Salvation doesn't break new ground, yet its murderous twists of fate are consistently compelling. And in a peripheral role that boasts no dialogue but myriad menacing glares, Green reconfirms that she has the most erotically ferocious eyes in cinema

  • In the Western’s heyday, nothing here would have seemed remotely exceptional—it would have been thoroughly enjoyed by audiences and completely forgotten by the following week, when something nearly identical replaced it at the local Bijou. Today, it’s a welcome throwback, moving at a brisk clip and allowing its impressive cast to embody some cherished archetypes.

  • Director Kristian Levring (The King Is Alive) reproduces the anti-capitalist, anti-clerical pessimism that animated so many of the Italian-made Westerns, and his cropped wide-angle compositions mimic the look of 2-perf Techniscope, the cut-rate widescreen process made iconic by Sergio Leone. And yet The Salvation never come across as a pastiche; the world of the spaghetti Western doesn’t need winks or references to be appreciated, and Levring doesn’t offer any.

  • Mr. Levring is more interested in flowing blood, churning dust and coats whipping prettily in the wind. Even as the thin story thins still further, he holds your attention by making sure everything on screen constantly moves: people, clothes, horses, wagons, wind.

  • Of course, Mikkelsen’s a damn fine actor, and as Jon, a Dane come to America to escape the aftermath of a war in his home country, meeting his young son and reunited with his wife after seven years apart, he brings a lot of heart to the train station meeting with which this film opens, complete with gorgeous rock-formation vistas and stirring Morricone-like music on the soundtrack.

  • Directed by Danish filmmaker Kristian Levring (who once made the Dogme 95 film The King Is Alive), The Salvation is visually beautiful, morally down and dirty, and simplistic. But it’s marked by two haunted, quiet performances from stars Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green, who make his otherwise predictable slog worthwhile.

  • Slick, hyperstylized, and lushly scored— a far cry from Levring and co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen’s Dogme days—The Salvation is, under its glossy Western veneer, a simple, old-fashioned revenge thriller. And with Mikkelsen to root for, that revenge tastes that much sweeter.

  • Wish this had more on its mind than endless tit-for-tat slaughter - I guess it has a little bit more: gangster capitalism in the Old West, and the Indian wars as the toxic collective trauma underlying the barbarity - but it's done with spaghetti-Western verve and it looks pretty striking, the desert soil graded to a burned orange and the nighttime showdowns (always in shadow, sometimes in driving rain) suitably forbidding.

  • [It] effectively relocates the bloody severity of Scandi noir to the 19th-century American west. A ricocheting revenge tale anchored by a stern-as-you-like Mads Mikkelsen, it’s brisk, tobacco-bitter stuff.

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