In 1870s America, the fury of a notorious gang leader is unleashed when a peaceful American settler avenges the death of his family. Then as his cowardly fellow townspeople betray him, he is forced to hunt down the outlaws alone.
The American West in the 1870s. A European settler, Jon Jensen (Mads Mikkelsen), has just welcomed his wife and son to the country when they are kidnapped and murdered. He takes revenge on the murderers, only to discover that one was the brother of a local land baron, Henry Delarue. Delarue runs the local town with a brutal hand. Now he wants vengeance on the man who killed his brother and the local townspeople are too scared of him to stand up to him. Jon is fighting more than just the local thugs, he is facing the entire town.Written by
The classic western story has been done again and again, a thousand times over. A hero is wronged, he seeks revenge, gunfights ensue, retribution is attained. It's a classic formula, and fuels countless films in the genre, even today. The tricky part is, getting all the elements right. The story is a blueprint, and all other aspects must be implemented skillfully for that blueprint to result in a worthwhile finished product. The Salvation gathers a wicked cast, a beautifully twangy, reminiscent soundtrack that brings a nostalgic tear to the eye, and stunning, drone and crane centred camera work to weave us a tale that kept me enraptured from start to finish. I haven't seen a western this gorgeously rendered since John Hillcoat's The Proposition, or as unforgiving and tragic on that note. Mads Mikkelsen stoically plays Jon, a Danish immigrant in the dust haven of America's west. Mikkelsen is an actor who can say more with two seconds of silent, eye twitching screen time than eight hundred pages of dialogue, making him the perfect fit for a tortured western protagonist. On the first day he is reunited with his wife and ten year old son, they are slaughtered by evil outlaws (an opening sequence of heart wrenching dread that will leave you with a dry mouth) prompting him to take swift revenge. They happened to be affiliated with the biggest, baddest gang boss gunslinger in the region, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I've been waiting for Morgan to get a role worth his talent since Watchmen, and he takes full advantage of his ruthless prick character, injecting every moment with malice. The two are pitted against each other in a hard bitten, economically dry town with a bitter atmosphere appropriate to the depressing nature of the story. Caught between is mute Eva Green as Princess, a prisoner of Morgan's clan and survivor of maiming in her youth, at the hands of natives. Green has no dialogue, but can fill a scene with thunderous, glowering presence, and is one of my favourite actresses working today. All the elements mix perfectly, from story, which is standard but given new vital signs by the lush production design, acting and especially the score, a sadly meandering rhapsody that prompts dreams of tumbleweeds, tragedy and hard men doing bad things in the name of revenge.
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