The Salvation (2014)

This is a Western. I know I had recently thought that there weren't really any good westerns lately, but then we had one after another. As a Western, this is also a revenge movie, so it has the makings of a damn good movie, even if the lead character doesn't speak English as his native tongue. Fact is, this makes sense, as many of the people who went west didn't speak English as their first language.

Mads Mikkelsen is the Danish man who has settled some hunk of land and is now ready for his wife and child (who doesn't know him) to come out and live the American Dream with him. So, everything is sparkles and dandelions as far as the eye can see, right? Well, life can't be so easy in the hardtack Wild West, so he comes into a bit of a confrontation with a couple of no-good jerks who inevitably do something disastrous to our hero's family. 

Mads' brother, Mikael Persbrandt, is a character they don't focus on much, but I'd say he's a damn good supporting character. He's a reliable guy who - it turns out - has a pretty good sense of humor and an ability to piss people off for no particular reason other than that he feels like it. He helps Mads at every possible turn, and that makes me wonder what his life is all about in the first place. He doesn't seem to have any friends, any woman and kids, or even any land of his own to worry about.

Eva Green is the mute woman who was married to one of the jerks who was responsible for the terrible things that happened to Mads' family. It seems that her inability to speak suited her husband well in that she could not complain about the terrible way she treated her. As a result, she's just trying to get through life with the fewest possible hardships. From this perspective, she probably plays the most relatable and most sympathetic character that I've ever seen her play. Her problems intensify when her slain husband's brother, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, decides it's time to move in on his former sister-in-law.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the big bad guy in this movie. He leads a group of no good outlaws, he does terrible things, and he's clearly disliked by everyone around him. This kind of situation really begs the question of how Jeffrey ever wound up in charge of a group of people in the first place. Either way, he's out to get vengeance upon Mads as swiftly and completely as he can. So, our hero now has someone to stand up against. The fact is that Jeffrey does a very good job with his role; he steals every scene he's in.

The production quality on this movie is really good. According to Wikipedia, it had six different production companies working on it. Normally something like that would result in a mishmash and a conflict of styles, but this is just a well shot movie. The mood of the movie is great, the cinematography is fantastic, and I can only think that it's big misstep is that they don't have enough big names. You stick a big name star in this lead role, and this movie knocks it out of the park. As it sits, Mads just doesn't have the charisma to carry the movie as far as it needed to go.

Acting was very good
Direction was very good
Story was simple, but good
Mood was fantastic
Dialogue was good

Bottom Line: A good Western that should've been a great Western.



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