Seraphim Falls (2006) Poster

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Powerful but misdirected
IQpierce25 May 2007
I think you're going to see some very mixed reviews for this film. The tragedy is that it's going to be picked up primarily by fans of westerns, who are looking for shootouts and plots that can be boiled down to "good guys" and "bad guys." Do not go into this movie expecting that.

This is ultimately a revenge story, but not a straightforward or clean-cut one; in this way I would compare it to "Memento" and "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada".

It's not clear who we're "supposed" to sympathize with at the beginning. We want to sympathize with the revenge-seeker; but we're told almost nothing about why he wants revenge. As he displays at least as many brutal and mercenary traits as anyone else in the film, we question why we side with him, and realize that we're only inclined to do so because our previous experience with "revenge" stories has programmed us to do so.

But the quarry is far from a sympathetic character as well, and we're torn emotionally on what we want to see happen. That is, until the original tragedy is finally revealed. And I've honestly never seen such a well-conceived scene of this type... the tragedy is heart-rending.

I won't say much more except that as the film goes on, the degree to which it will appeal to fans of literal straightforward westerns decreases significantly. You see, as the film begins, Carver's pursuit of Gideon takes them through various isolated episodes: encounters with various characters. As the film goes on, these encounters become more and more obscurely surreal; the final such encounter seems almost supernatural or fantastic. The writer and director have peeled away the internal reality of the story, and are speaking to us through the form itself. Not something that your average Western viewer is likely to accept or appreciate.

Viewers will come to this film expecting a completely realist story; and that's what they seem to be getting at the beginning of the movie. The viewer is not prepared for this realism to slowly and obscurely fall apart - and while that may be the reason that the film creates such a powerful and somehow creepy experience by the end, the same factor is likely to leave most viewers feeling robbed.

Ultimately this film is definitely worth watching, but may not have enduring appeal to lovers of the traditional Western genre. A note while viewing: pay attention to the theme of loss, and how various possessions of the characters are lost.
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Fallen Angels and the Devil
lputterdvm1 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Just saw the movie in DVD. Was curious about all the biblical implications so I came out here to read what others were saying. The opinions are either thumbs up or down but so far I think everybody has missed the metaphors. First off Seraphim refers to Angels. But who are the fallen angels? The two protagonists? Or more likely the bizarre characters they meet up with during the course of the movie manipulating the characters to a final showdown on more balanced terms. Angelica Huston's character is Lucifer, a fallen angel. On the back of her wagon is her name, Louise C. Fair, AKA Lucifer. In retrospect the movie was somewhat predictable and a bit contrived for me. However I did like the religious allegory, anti-war message, beautiful cinematography and great acting from Liam and Pierce. For those who didn't get it I recommend that you watch it again. Enjoy.
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Intelligently-made western a refreshing surprise
Whythorne17 July 2007
I rented this film without ever hearing of it before, and was pleasantly surprised...something which is becoming more and more rare in my movie renting experience.

This gritty, untypical western appealed to me on a number of different levels. The unusual casting of Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan intrigued me, their film presence was an enhancement without being a distraction to the film. The story was complex and minimalist at the same time, sometimes combining ultra-real and surreal elements. The cinematography is straightforward and beautiful, and a welcome relief from the jiggly camera technique, colorization, and other "contemporary" gimmicks that all too often nowadays cause technique and style to become a major distraction with the story being told. Thank goodness there are still directors that believe in having movies being filmed this way!

While the story grabs your attention from the very beginning and moves quickly, it takes its time in revealing who the characters are, and what are their motivations and the demons they are dealing with.

If you watch this with a preconceived notion of what a western should be, a la John Ford, Howard Hawks, etc. you may be disappointed, as some reviewers here obviously have been. I myself found this intelligent western - that is a little offbeat, with an element of mystery, and not always clearly defined bad guys and good guys - a refreshing change of pace from the racks of slasher film sequels, lame comedies, and Jennifer Aniston vehicles at the video store.
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solid western
Buddy-5127 June 2007
Written by Abby Everett Jaques and David Von Ancken and directed by Von Ancken, "Seraphim Falls" is a rough, tough, old-fashioned western set on the dusty plains and snow-covered mountains of western Nevada. The plot is little more than a straightforward revenge tale involving Liam Neeson (sans Southern accent) as a sadistic Rebel army colonel who hires a posse to track down the marauding Union officer he believes slaughtered his family in the days following the Civil War. The officer, played with steely-eyed determination by Pierce Brosnan, is a savvy, quick-on-the-draw survivalist who, through sheer ingenuity and skill, stymies and outwits the colonel and his men at every turn.

What "Seraphim Falls" lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in grit and style. For even though there isn't a great deal of depth to the characters, there's much pleasure to be derived from merely watching two actors of the caliber of Neeson and Brosnan squaring off in a grueling game of cat-and-mouse played out in a punishing, unforgiving landscape. Brosnan's character achieves an almost Superman-like quality as he stays one step ahead of his pursuers, devising ever-more elaborate means of ensnaring them in his traps. The movie takes a decidedly metaphysical turn in its closing stretches, with the divine Anjelica Huston, no less, appearing out of nowhere as a desert apparition to set the boys straight on a few eternal verities like redemption and forgiveness. But it is as a simple tale of vengeance and obsession that "Seraphim Falls" most captures our imagination and interest.
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Good start, but goes a bit trippy crackpot at the end.
Rob_Taylor23 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I like going into movies knowing little about them other than a few basics. Quite often, the less you know beforehand, the more enjoyable a movie can be. So all I knew about Seraphim Falls when I watched it was that it was a western. I didn't even know who was in it.

Now, to start with, all was well. The frozen mountainous setting, Brosnan and Neeson, a tale of revenge. Who was Brosnan's character? Why was Neeson after him. All good stuff.

Over the course of the next hour or so, more is revealed as the manhunt continues. Again, all good.

But, oh dear, having convinced me it was a revenge-western, Seraphim Falls then proceeds to get a little bit weird. Characters appear in the middle of nowhere, offering temptations to Brosnan and Neeson's characters. At first I thought "The characters are losing their minds, and this is what they are seeing." But the gifts thus given to the duo are apparently real. If they had both died of thirst at the end and been found by a wandering cavalry detachment, say, then I could have forgiven this.

But this is not what happens. I won't try and gloss over it. For a revenge flick this is a deeply unsatisfying conclusion. The trippy insanity is never explained and the whole thing leaves a rather unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth.

It's almost as if, having given us over an hour of blood and thunder, the director wanted to point out the folly of vengeance and how we should all just "get along...." If you like good old fashioned westerns give this one a miss. It starts off promising, but will hugely disappoint you in the end.
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Very Good
mboytiman12 May 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It's a hunt movie, in the genre of Jeremiah Johnson or The Searchers type. Not gripping,then isn't supposed to be, but contained enough excitement and adventure to keep me fully engrossed. I thought Pierce Brosnan was excellent, almost unrecognizable with his beard and make up; poles apart from Bond. He really looks and plays his character as the quarry very well indeed. The locations photography, New Mexico and Oregon, are stunning. Liam Neeson never seems to give a bad performance plays his character well as the cold hearted, totally obsessed predator, He is well supported by a bunch of bounty hunters/villains lead by Michael Wincott.
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Revenge and the Wilderness Struggle for Survival
gradyharp4 June 2007
SERAPHIM FALLS is an odd film, one that on the surface appears to be an homage to the old Westerns, but proves to be a psychological battle for survival between two men engulfed in revenge. There is very little story to relate: Carver (Liam Neeson) with a small posse of bounty hunters (Michael Wincott, Ed Lauter, John Robinson and Robert Baker) treks Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) through snow, forests, mountains, rough water, and desert over a Civil Ear seed of hate. The 'story' fades to a philosophical stance (somewhat clumsily) by the intervention of some ghostly creatures (Anjelica Huston, et al) and ends without much more than a whisper of a memory about the futility of revenge.

Bronson and Neeson do well with their scant dialogue, revealing more of their character's minds with physical action and the power of facial expressions. The mood of the film is in the superior hands of cinematographer John Toll and Harry Gregson-Williams' musical score. Director David Von Ancken keeps the tension at peak level even though the film is desperately in need of editing (just under tow long hours in length). But for a diversion and an appreciation for the wilderness of America in the mid-nineteenth century, SERAPHIM FALLS is a visually satisfying experience. Grady Harp
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great movie
jherman-52 February 2007
This is an excellent western - with two great stars that show grit and go beyond their usual work. The photography is stunning and the story is meant to make you think - not pander to the usual formulaic plot. The first 30 minutes will make your hair stand up and the rest will keep you going - definitely a must see. Pay attention to the cameos at the end. They have gone about the heads of some reviewers, but really bring a sense of classical reference to the story. War has been a societal issue since ancient Greece, and perhaps we have not yet learned the lessons that need to be learned.

Kudos to the director who has brought together story, talent, and visual art in one epic piece.
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Standing ovations!
pthedstrom3 February 2008
Watched this excellent western on a Sunday morning, not knowing more about the film that it was a western - a man being hunted by another and that there was a grudge from the past between them. I always loved a good western movie, stories are usually kept simple, and so is this one. That however doesn't keep it from being a brilliant movie, beautifully shot and with the right cast. Since i didn't know who was starring, it took me all the way to the end before i realized that the leading part was played by no other than Pierce Brosnan, who once again proves to be a top of the line actor who can play a very wide variety of roles - from James Bond to this. If you ever liked watching a good western this is a must, all the way up there with the other nine best western movies of all times!

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the best western in a decade or so
movieman_kev24 May 2007
Liam Neeson as Carver is hunting Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) through the wilderness of the old west, in this minimalistic western that takes place a little after the Civil War. Very well acted by all involved, and I found myself enjoying it quite a lot. At 2 hours, the film hardly feels it and is seems like a fast watch, never wearing out it's welcome (although coming close to it around the end due to the cameos of Angela Huston and Wes Studi, both parts felt forced and didn't jibe with the film in any way) Aside from that, if you're a fan of the Western genre, you'll find much to enjoy in this one. It's probably the best we've had in a good decade or so. To say Writer/ Director Ancken hit his stride here wouldn't be the right word (I've yet to see his short "Bullet in the Brain", but hear it's excellent), but it IS the film that really made me take notice of his talent and I strongly await whatever he has up his sleeve next.

My Grade: A
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Too slow for some but for others this is a fantastic film with a superb ending
lekgolah15 June 2010
It is easy to dislike a film that slows down during the middle to the point where very little is happening and for that reason, many people may not enjoy this film. Thankfully the performances kept my attention on the screen. The two leads are fantastic with Liam Neeson as the predator and Pierce Brosnan as the hunted. Brosnan particularly stands out giving a performance much different to what he has done before this. Right from the beginning you believe that he is trying to survive in the snowy Ruby Mountains whilst he is being hunted. Were it not for the two leads, this film would have been uninteresting to watch.

This is not an action western like 3:10 to Yuma, which is one of my favourite films I might add but is instead a drama that focuses on how far men will go to get what they want or what they will do to survive. Thats not to say that it is devoid of any excitement as the film starts off with Brosnan being chased through the woods and into the rapids. Without spoiling too much the ending is also gripping and concludes the film nicely.

The soundtrack for the film is great and works well with what is happening on-screen. While it may not be as rememberable as The Assassination of Jesse James, it nice to listen to as you look at the films fantastic cinematography. When they are in the cold mountains, you feel cold and that there is little chance of survival for the characters. When they are in the desert, you will feel their thirst for water.

If you watch the film expecting it to be slow and uninteresting, you will be surprised. Watch this film with an open mind and you will see that this is a very well made film boasting fantastic performances from the two leading actors.
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"Seraphim Falls" is box-office disaster and easy to see why
chuck-reilly31 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Terminally long with no end in sight, "Seraphim Falls" from TV director David Van Ancken will put most viewers to sleep as this western saga drags on and on. The revenge plot which this film is centered on has been done many times before and with much better results ("The Outlaw Josey Wales" for one example). In this film, Liam Neeson chases Pierce Brosnan across most of the southwest territory of the United States as both men use up horses and canteens by the dozens. Along the way, we meet a number of what are supposed to be colorful characters or "visions" that may symbolize good and evil. Anjelica Huston and Wes Studi show up near the end of the film, but neither of them make much of an impression except to have their names added to the credits. What Ms. Huston is doing in the middle of the desert selling mysterious potions isn't given any adequate explanation other than the fact that she may be just a mirage. Veteran character actor Ed Lauter has the thankless role of one of Neeson's henchmen who gets left hanging in the middle of nowhere. His fate is quickly forgotten as the long chase continues. As for the two leads, Neeson and Brosnan, both gentlemen have seen better movies and scripts than the one they're stuck with in this box-office fiasco. "Seraphim Falls" director Van Ancken has plied his trade mainly on the small screen and been very successful there. His try for the big-time with this film did not turn out so well. You can't win them all.

One of the problems with "Seraphim Falls" is that neither of the main characters qualify as the real protagonist. Neeson has good reason to be hunting down Brosnan who ordered the burning of his home during the Civil War (which also inadvertently killed Neeson's innocent family). Unfortunately, this key information is handed out "piece-meal" to the audience and Neeson's motivation for vengeance is revealed too late in the film. What we do know about Neeson's character is that during his chase for Brosnan, he becomes a murdering psychopath and gains little sympathy from viewers. Brosnan isn't much better himself although it seems he somewhat regrets his earlier actions. The problem with "Seraphim Falls" mainly lies with the ambiguous script which elongates this sad tale to an excruciating length. Viewers will need their own canteens of water just to sit through it. The ending is neither satisfying nor logical and the whole ordeal of watching this film is an exercise in futility. To put it bluntly, "Seraphim Falls" misfires on both barrels.
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An epic film with heart stopping action.
evonancken1 February 2007
A film of epic dimensions magnificently filmed in the grand Western tradition, Seraphim Falls combines breathtaking action with fine acting by Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson. Both have taken on roles far from their usual fare and have achieved a level of performance rarely seen. Anjelica Huston, in a cameo role, provides the devilish key to this tale of pursuit and revenge. Director/Screenwriter, David VonAncken, updates the historical American Western with his spare dialog and continual action. The glorious scenery of the West adds another dimension to this full bodied work. Shot in New Mexico and Oregon, under grueling conditions, Seraphim Falls is a must see for those who love the Western genre and long for a great story excitingly transferred to the screen.
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hpagan1422 May 2007
With this film you have to take your hat of for Mr. Brosnan he is great in his acting, This is a movie that will remain as one of the greatest western films of all times and some sequences of this film will be remembered for ever I will not tell anything but if you see it(and you must) you will remember this.

It is beautifully shot and has a solid script, great action and deep emotions mixed along the way. If you like western you will not be disappointed.

When you watch Seraphim Falls you will have your emotions mixed as the movie develops and when the fantastic finale arrives you will be even more pleased. It has one of the mos original showdown finale I have ever seen.

This movie is a must see!
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"The Searchers" meets "The Outlaw Josey Wales"; Brosnan & Neeson excel in fine revision oater
george.schmidt25 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SERAPHIM FALLS (2007) *** Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Angie Harmon, Anjelica Huston, Ed Lauter, Michael Wincott, Robert Baker, Kevin J.O'Connor, Xander Berkeley, Wes Studi, James Jordan, Nate Mooney, Jimmi Simpson, Tom Noonan, Shannon Zeller.

Vengeance has its price.

The revenge Western has been around for quite some time – as long as revenge has been around I suppose (which may be redundant) – and the latest of this sub-genre owes quite a bit to John Ford's "The Searchers" and a kissing cousin to the Clint Eastwood revenge oater "The Outlaw Josey Wales'.

In its latest incarnation, the story begins in the wintry confines of the Ruby Mountains circa 1868, and Gideon (a nearly unrecognizable Brosnan as far away from being The Artist Formerly Known As Bond here) is being pursued by a relentless tracker in the form of a taciturn man named Carver (low-key Neeson speaking volumes in his determined yet steely silent eyes), hell-bent on catching his fugitive, in tow with several hired guns to get the job done, by any means necessary.

Opening with Gideon being shot in the arm and running through the wintry landscape, falling into a freezing river and eventually excising the silver-dollar sized bullet with wincing dexterity, the pace continues to be breathless and anticipatory as Gideon manages to be one-step ahead while Carver's troupe are two-behind.

The reason for Carver's intent is not revealed until the final act (which is the weaker part of the film) but consider its post-Civil War thread and that should sate those who don't want a spoiler thrown in for good measure.

Both actors give finely tuned turns here with Brosnan in one of his most physically demanding performances with a certain dirt-under-the-fingernails grittiness, sporting a Don Quixote VanDyke and thatch of graying hair, a grizzled wrinkling pre-aged look that suggests his suffering character is damned in the long run. Proving it takes two-to-tango, Neeson is at his most subtle yet still a looming presence with his brawn and stalwartness bellies his real intent: revenge at any price.

There are a few tweaks to the genre's stock characters: young gun bank robbers; a railroad crew of hostile Irishmen and victimized Chinese slave labor; wise Indian proclaiming nuggets of choice phrasings; a snake-oil sales(wo)man (Huston at her slyest) who may-or- may-not-be-a-desert-mirage; and the off-beat missionaries on pilgrimage.

But director David Von Ancken making his big-screen debut (a TV vet of such shows as "Numb3rs" & "CSI: NY") – who collaborated on the script with novice Abby Everett Jaques – manages to incorporate some shrewd machinations (a dead horse sequence that actually had me jump out of my seat; kudos to editor Conrad Buff IV) and allow his leads enough space to make the most of their environs (the scenery is a character itself going from the wintry mountains to the arid, no-man's land salt flats) to their advantage.

Although when the two characters finally come together after many bloody, graphic sequences, it is somewhat anti-climatic but the theme of doing the right thing at the right time nearly defeats what has transpired in the first half of this revisionist Western, the best since "Unforgiven" and last year's "The Proposition".
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This straightforward movie is paced reasonably well and turns out to be a fine vehicle for the two leads.
ma-cortes9 December 2009
At Nevada territory 1860, various riders form a posse led by Carver (Liam Neeson) and pursuing a fugitive named Gideon (Pierce Brosnan). They wound him but he escapes. The hunter leader is a tough, vengeful man and the hunted is a two-fisted and resourceful war veteran. They spend most of it running through the snow, desert, and woods, being pursued and chased.

The two leading men are magnificent in the hostile environment which the flick is set in. There are still nice scenes to see such as Brosnan leaping from a cliff and several sparkling duels. It also results to be surprisingly gory along with a handful of violent and breathtaking action scenes. It's a thunder stuff with a strong star cast. The actors supporting the lead roles are fine , mostly acting as rare persons or fools of one sort or another, as an Indian philosopher played by Wes Studi and a mysterious peddler by Angelica Huston. The large secondary cast is completed by Kevin J O'Connor, Michael Wincott, Ed Lauter , Tom Noonan, and Xander Berkeley as Railroad foreman, among them. Riveting cinematography by John Toll , reflecting wonderfully the landscapes in the ultimate unfriendly environment. Suspenseful and appropriate musical score by Harry Gregson-Williams. A must see for every enthusiast of a decent action western movie. If you are a fan of the guys, Brosnan and Neeson, you'll want to watch this one.

The motion picture is finely directed and well written by David Van Anckan . This is his first and only film, he's usually director of TV chapters as ¨Numbers, The Shield, Cold case, Daybreak, Heroes, CSI and Californication¨. Rating : Good, it's competent enough, a straightforward entertainment that results to be an intriguing story turned into an OK actioner Western. However , this is definitely an adult-oriented flick because of the violence, amount of gore and some profanity language on hand. It's one of the best Western films of the last years.
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Well made, well acted, and not worth your time
jpathomas26 July 2007
Okay, I read all the glowing reviews of this film, and I have one question for anyone who gave this thing more than a middle zone rating; Did you actually watch this movie? I won't recap the plot, that's been done a number of times already. I will say that both the leads to a great job in their roles, and the film looks great. But none of that matters if you don't have a story that is engaging. The simple fact is there is no character in this film who is wroth caring about. And then it goes all siddhartha in the end.

I'm open to new ways of using the western formate, I love a movie that surprises me and makes me think. This movie does neither. I gave it a 4 because it's well acted and well shot, but it's not entertaining, informative, or though provoking.
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Quite a disappointment.
innocuous21 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Well-filmed and acted, but ultimate a very frustrating movie. This movie is an extended metaphor that quite suddenly veers off into the bizarre with the appearance of several characters that are clearly not human in the last 20 minutes of the story. What starts out as "The Outlaw Josey Wales" or "Jeremiah Johnson" turns into "El Topo" or "Medicine Man" with no apparent rhyme or reason.

All the usual clichés are here...ex-Civil War soldiers with revenge in their hearts, stupid outlaw sidekicks that get picked off one by one, guy with a huge knife who is more than a match for two or three guys with guns, the little girl on the ranch who feels sorry for the poor horse thief, etc. It's just a matter of sequencing and how long you wait to get to them.

Let me repeat...beautifully filmed and well-acted. You may find it worthwhile for these reasons alone.
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Very mixed experience
chrichtonsworld10 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
There are many types of westerns! "Seraphim Falls" falls into the revenge category! We are witnesses to Pierce Brosnan being chased by Liam Neeson! Neeson wants revenge! The viewers are kept in the dark until the end! Only then it gets clear what the deal is about! What amazed me that Pierce Brosnan made very good use of his environment and knife! His guerrilla tactics isn't something you expect to see in a western! It could be that I am too old fashioned when it comes to this genre! But I did miss the shootouts! Somehow a western without shooting is like a kung fu movie without martial arts! At least that is what I expect ! I don't like realism in this type of genre! With shows like "Deadwood" very little is left to the imagination! Experimenting and doing something new is always appreciated! But isn't it possible to do so and still maintain some of the charm of the old westerns we all loved to see! (Movies like "Blueberry" or "The missing" are examples of these movies which successfully added new elements to typical western movies!) It is obvious that "Seraphim Falls" isn't your typical western! This western is not an action movie but more a drama about two men dealing with their past and the consequences of their actions in the past! Personally I liked the ending very much! I do have to say that this ending never would have worked if it weren't for the excellent performances by Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson! Brosnan has shown that he can do more than Bond and similar roles! He shows an intensity without using much words! Just brilliant! The wonderful performances however can't hide the fact that the story isn't that special or interesting! Overall I have very mixed feelings about this movie!
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No Angels At Seraphim Falls
bkoganbing19 July 2008
Seraphim Falls casts two actor whom you would not associate with the western genre as a couple of bitter enemies from the Civil War. I'm convinced that Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan did Seraphim Falls so they could say they've got a western in their credit lists. You never know when you might get offered another one.

It wasn't a bad choice to make for either of them, especially Brosnan who's light years away from playing James Bond or Remington Steele. Brosnan is a former Union Army officer hunting a noted Confederate in the person of Liam Neeson back in the day. Now it's Brosnan hunting him and not too squeamish in what it takes to get him.

In fact Neeson and his hired men wound Brosnan right at the beginning of the film, but Brosnan manages to elude them with the fighting and survival skills worthy of Rambo. After that it's a question of who might be hunting who.

Is Neeson really a bad guy because he does some really brutal things. Let's just say he's had some brutality inflicted on him in General Sherman's particular brand of war on the south in the person of Brosnan when he was in uniform.

Though Angelica Huston as a medicine show lady and Wes Studi as a philosophical Indian have some interesting roles, Seraphim Falls is a film that belongs to its well matched leads. Fans of Neeson and Brosnan are required to see Seraphim Falls.
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Go as you wish. That which is yours will always return to you. That which you take will always be taken from you.
hitchcockthelegend19 May 2011
Seraphim Falls is directed by David Von Ancken who also co-writes with Abby Everett Jaques. It stars Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Wincott, Xander Berkeley, Tom Noonan, Kevin J. O'Connor, John Robinson, Ed Lauter, Wes Studi and Anjelica Huston. Music is by Harry Gregson-Williams and cinematography by John Toll.

It's post American Civil War, 1868, the Rocky Mountains, and Gideon (Brosnan) is being hunted by Colonel Morsman Carver (Neeson) and his hired killers. The reason why is not yet known, but it's the beginning of a relentless pursuit that's propelled by rage and hatred, a pursuit that will force both men to the day of reckoning.

The premise is as simple as it gets and on the surface the film holds no surprises until the divisive ending. However, before taking in the thematics of the story, it's refreshing to find a film of this genre type utilising the scenery to the max, whilst simultaneously playing out with sparse dialogue as two grizzled actors tell the story. An obvious forebear to "The Outlaw Josey Wales", Seraphim Falls is ultimately a meditation on revenge and remorse. Moments of violence flit in and out of proceedings, these moments cloaked magnificently by natural surroundings, where the expansive wilderness plays host to the intimate human drama unfolding. It's also a film that pulses with mythical atmosphere, where Carver's pursuit of Gideon plays out like that of the Grim Reaper and his charges sent to capture the soul of the fleeing man. The falls of the title clearly indicates man's decent into hell, because it's not for nothing that the finale is played out on a blistering plain, which as you cast your eyes upon it, it is indeed hellish.

It's also worth noting that we the viewers are never sure who we should be rooting for - if either of them!? Gideon is out on his own, but he is an immensely skilled mountain man, one who is seemingly out skilling his pursuers. Is he the bad guy here? Or is it Neeson's Carver? One is ex Union, the other Confederate, this gives added spice to what then develops into a most intriguing journey. Where the film has irked some critics is with the ending, with some calling it pretentious and a very weak pay off. It's true enough to say that Ancken has slackened the grip slightly, as the tight gritty tone gives way to something more open and even airy. Yet I personally like it a lot, it helps to round out the supernatural feel that appears to loom as we have headed towards the day of reckoning. It lacks dramatic impact for sure, but thematically and for tonal bedfellow process, it pays off on what had gone before it.

Brosnan (stepping in when Richard Gere bailed out) and Neeson revel in the roles, seemingly enjoying the complexities and war torn burdens that their characters carry. Their scenes together are as professional as one could wish, both men comfortably doing world weary characterisations. Wincott is on hand for gravel voiced villain duties, his portrayal of Hayes is cold and in keeping with the movie. The other notable names in the cast drop in and out of the narrative, each important, and in the case of Huston and Studi, suitably weird. But the real star of the show is John Toll (Braveheart/Legends of the Fall), whose photography is pristine and always remaining atmospheric, he captures the natural beauty of Oregon and New Mexico with great keen eyed skill. Switiching seamlessly from the blue, grey and whites of the mountain pursuit to the browns and yellows of the salt flats, we witness a master cinematographer at work.

Likely to infuriate as much as it enthrals, one just hopes that it's the latter that anyone reading this does indeed find to be the case. 8/10
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Disappointing, long and meandering
LilyDaleLady12 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
****(some minor spoilers within)**** This film was a real disappointment to me, because I love westerns and thought it had a lot of potential, including a great cast. Like most inept movies, it is done in by a weak and unfocused script, and like most inept period films, it is done in by a lack of knowledge or interest in the period.

Both Neeson and Brosnan are very capable and even excellent actors in other material, and they express (in the interviews) a deep interest in westerns, but they are out of their depth here, struggling awkwardly with their accents (though with some back-story, it is not impossible for an American soldier at that time to be of Irish birth). The setting in New Mexico is spectacularly beautiful, but there is no real explanation for how two protagonists from the Civil War, presumably fighting in the rural South, got to New Mexico, or why, except that the director wanted to film there and take advantage of the huge climate differences in the state. This is not a good enough reason. It's beautiful, but irrelevant.

Neeson plays Carver, a farmer and former Confederate, whose farm (and wife and children) were burned to the ground by Brosnan (Gideon), a Yankee who is somehow hunting him AFTER the end of the war. It's not clear why, and this lack of detail muddles the character's motivation. (I think MAYBE Carver was suspected to be leading some rebels after the war is over, but that's not really clear.) The family is killed mostly by clumsy accident and not deliberately.

Carver then spends the next several years hunting Gideon, accompanied by four henchman. Gideon has nearly magical powers of escape and surprise and survival, and picks the henchman off one at a time...often in rather unbelievable ways. For example, one luckless character is killed when Gideon drops a knife from 30 ft up in a tree, and it magically hits him right in the head. (Just try that...on second thought, don't, but honestly it wouldn't work most of the time.) Later, another henchman (Michael Wincott, in a thankless role) is killed when Gideon jumps out of a gutted horse carcase, rotting in the sun, and attacks him.

Now, this is the point where the film utterly lost me, and my viewing companion and I started laughing out loud! Brosnan is a fairly large man, I guess at least six foot, and he's riding a fairly ordinary quarter horse (or similar). He heartlessly (and stupidly, for a knowledgeable man of the time) allows his horse to die of thirst and exhaustion while HE sits his fat ass on the animal and guzzles the only water (he has also, stupidly, only brought a tiny flask of water, maybe 12 ounces!!!). Then -- mind you, HE is amazingly fit as a fiddle though a HORSE has just dropped dead of the same desert conditions -- guts the animal, climbs inside it, and waits, possibly for hours, until the bad guys arrive, jumps out and kills Mr. Wincott's character.

OK, fellow viewers....this is about the dumbest scene I have seen in any film in a long time. As well as gross! Can you imagine what a rotting horse carcase laying the sun would smell like??? And face it, a large man cannot fit inside a horse, even with the entrails removed. I don't even think a small woman could fit inside a large draft horse, like a Percheron -- but that's a possibility. This is simply, utterly ridiculous and laughable. You simply lose all your belief in the film and characters when this occurs.

After this, the film devolves into one of those bad, 1970s art films. Lots of religious references, spacey characters that may or may not exist, a woman (Angelica Huston, one of our finest actresses, utterly wasted) appears out of nowhere and she's apparently "LUCIFER" (gosh, her wagon even spells it out..Louise C. Faire! Cuz it wasn't obvious enough!).

The two protagonists slug it out, then I guess they make up and walk off in the distance...are they dead? Alive? In heaven? Hell? Have they reconciled? Are they forgiven now? (Brosnan buries his big knife.) Could anyone possibly care less? 112 minutes, and it feels like 4 hours. My recommendation: if you love any of the actors, and really wanted to see this, as I did, please use Netflix or something. Don't invest in this -- you will not wish to see it twice.
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Just the kind of western that I like
funkyfry29 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's a little strange to look over the cast list for this movie and realize that so many people are in it, because it's hard to think about or remember anything other than these 2 men who end up facing each other in the desert. This is a very focused movie, it's not trying to take in all the "important" questions about America and the mythology of the West. It's just about revenge, like some of the best westerns of the 50s and 60s.

Carver (Liam Neeson) is on the hunt for Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) with a set of accomplices (including most notably Michael Wincott and Ed Lauter -- men with great western faces that Leone himself would have adored). We don't find out the reason till fairly far along, and it's predictable enough to take the movie down a notch. Still I like the way that the set-up is handled, how we don't really know if Carver is a law-man or a bounty hunter or what. And I like the central theme of the film -- the idea of "when does war end?" Carver says that war never ends: "War is just men killing other men." Interestingly in the flashback when Gideon comes to Carver's ranch it's Carver who says "the war is over!" and the dialog is reversed when Carver tracks Gideon down later. War is a social institution; these two men are caught up in the reality of war outside of its institutional nature, the "side effects" if you will that hardly seem incidental to those who are affected by them.

Power is the variable in every equation of war, its solution and its method. When Gideon defeats Carver in combat and proves his superiority as a warrior, he leaves Carver in the dust and walks away. This would not be a satisfying ending either thematically or dramatically, so the movie and the battle continue but into a surreal desert the likes of which we haven't seen since the days of Leone or much earlier Von Stroheim. An "angel" appears to give the men the "cure" to exactly what they need. The dream logic prevails; if they are willing to surrender the thing that keeps them alive, they can accomplish the function of the fighting. Now, my reading of the ending is that Gideon gives Carver the chance to kill him because he's already given up on life. He didn't want to kill Carver, because he was never angry at Carver in the first place and he felt bad about what happened to Carver's family. So he did it as a gesture of goodwill, and in that sense I think it's very believable. But Carver couldn't kill Gideon because it was never the function of the fighting to lead up to a sacrifice. The function of the fighting was for power to be gained over the other. The intended sacrifice resolves the dramatic situation, and it also points up the absurd nature of their entire vendetta. I think some might find the ending unconvincing or unsatisfying but for me it was the only possible one for these reasons.

Besides having great faces Wilcott and Lauter are fantastic in the movie and the others are decent. It reminds me of James Coburn and James Best riding with the vengeful Lee Van Cleef in Budd Boetticher's great western "Ride Lonesome." I always do prefer these kinds of western story, where the whole thing is about an essential conflict between 2 or 3 people and the film doesn't try to make the people represent ideas directly. I like my westerns pulpy and small scale. Brosnan should do more westerns, he was great in this movie. Neeson is a fascinating performer, and he really finds the meat of this role and chews the heck out of it. His accent sounds pretty good to me, and he really embodies a dead-man-walking kind of mentality. I wouldn't have thought of him in this role, but he did it so well and that's what makes him great.

Photography and direction are just about perfect, not too showy and not too detached emotionally either. I would only rate the film a bit higher if it wasn't so predictable in terms of the story. But I really enjoyed the setting and the hard edged style of the film. With solid performances at its core, this one should age very well.
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Hidden Gem
d-harleydavis9 February 2013
I consider myself a bit of cinephile...yet this hidden gem escaped my attention for 7 years. I stumbled upon it tonight on a random search for things I hadn't seen. I was not disappointed.

This is a tight, short, compact beauty of a movie. An acting tour de force (ironically between two irish actors in a western). This movie took in less box office in it's run than 'Taken 2' took in in it's first hour, but what a movie! The whole thing is very atmospheric, really feel for the two lead characters. Uniquely we never get vested in who is the hero and who is the villain. They both have redeeming qualities, and they both have their dark side. I never felt I was on either side of the equation, I just watched the story unfold without the obligatory Hollywood right vs. wrong, good vs. evil. It was a simple story between two good men and their past misgivings catching up to them. It's not the greatest movie I have ever seen, I didn't learn anything new, but it was a breath of fresh air in the era of cookie cutter movies. The ending was about as anti-Hollywood as I've ever seen.

Watch this, you will not be disappointed.
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Cat and mouse without the speed...
sinncross29 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After the events of the Civil War in America, Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) is being hunted by a group of mercenaries headed by Carver (Liam Neeson). Both are connected to an horrific event at Seraphim Falls, and Carver will do anything in his power to exact revenge upon Gideon.

Seraphim Falls is a story about survival, and is evidently so from the opening scenes where Gideon is immediately shot by an unknown rifleman, who we find is part of the group headed by Carver, and has to constantly be on the run to remain alive. This is pretty much the story throughout, except for background story of the events at Seraphim Falls, but this background information is never done in an intriguing way ad instead is hinted at in the beginning of the story, and then explicitly shown towards the end. This is one of the problems with Seraphim Falls as it tries to build this sense of mystery but it never hints at the events constantly enough and when it does come, it comes across as a last ditch effort in trying to get the viewer to sympathise for both Gideon and Carver, which does however work. While the story has a fairly stable pace, with the many slow scenes having the inclusion of a death. While the slow pace only serves to emphasise the struggle of the chase and escape through rugged terrain, except the luscious snowy forest in the opening scenes, it is still a somewhat annoying experience, especially so when the story seems to go absolutely nowhere. There is also an issue in regards to the pace that both Carver and Gideon seem to travel at, but it never distracts from the overall film. It is only towards the end where the pace seems to pick up and the story tries to bring some sense of advancement. It works in its own way, but potential for something for more grand is wasted. Still, it is the characters that really push the film, and they do makeup for the strained story.

The acting is utterly convincing, and only possible due to the ease that both Brosnan and Neeson are able to portray their respective characters. The range of emotions that both veteran actors create is remarkable and will easily allow any viewer to feel for the characters. This is also due to the character development, as we learn that Gideon and Carver do not represent merely black and white, villain and hero: they share characteristics that in fact make them human since neither of them are truly good or bad in their ideals.

There is no nudity, some suggestive sexual movements, which were not in a sexual situation, and only a few profanities which are far and few. However there are a few instances of violence, which involve a little shooting but is more in dealing with cutting and stabs from a knife. While never graphic, except for the closeup of a horses internal organs which have been removed from its body, there are still scenes of the dead bodies with their respective gashes.

Seraphim Falls is not a long film, but it does seem so upon viewing. Its rather pointless direction does have a definite end, but has to be aided by some really good acting to keep one's interest. Ultimately, its the definite emotion exuded by both Brosnan and Neeson that keeps this survival story alive.

--- Also available on Entertainment.Wikia ---
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