The Salvation (2014)

Drama, Western
Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Cantona
In 1870s America, a peaceful American settler kills his family's murderer which unleashes the fury of a notorious gang leader. His cowardly fellow townspeople then betray him, forcing him to hunt down the outlaws alone.
  • 22 May 2014 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Anders Thomas Jensen, Kristian Levring Writer:
  • Kristian Levring Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Intense and unforgiving8/10
Saw this on premiere-night in Denmark and left the cinema relieved and with a smile on my face. Director Kristian Levring delivers a very believable, dark and uncompromising western set in a very classic western atmosphere.

The story is straightforward and although it moves along slowly at times (fast paced at others), it's quite intense and is generally beautifully shot.

If you're going for a feel good movie, this is not it, but if you like classic westerns, you'll enjoy it.

Mads Mikkelsen and Mikael Persbrandt deliver solid performances as the danish brothers Jon and Peter who've emigrated to America after fighting the Germans in the danish/German war of 1864. But for me, Eva Green steals the show as the mute Madelaine (princess). She has a very mystical and powerful presence and leaves you wondering, wanting more.

All in all a very enjoyable picture that is a great testament to how far danish cinema has come. This is quite uncharacteristic for a typical danish movie, but Levring really pulls it off and I think any lover of westerns will find this a solid addition to the batch of quality westerns in the past 10 years (The Proposition, 3:10 to Yuma, True grit, Django Unchained etc.) It doesn't quite reach those levels, but it's close and it's enjoyable.
A good Danish western7/10
Maybe it takes Danes to do a really good Western these days? American westerns seems to be all about softer things now, while this movie was tough and, in part, quite brutal. They even killed a kid in it, which sort of never happens in American movies.

Mads Mikkelsen delivers as always. His stone face is made for this sort of thing (Clint Eastwood, anyone?). Jeffrey Dean Morgan did a good job as the bad guy and Eva Green was really cool as a mute and strong woman.

The Swedish feminist newspapers hated this movie because it was about two strong men, the brothers. I for one can't see what they were complaining about, given Green's role. And in any case, even if Green wasn't there: Why can't a movie be about two strong men?
On the one hand, 'The Salvation' is a classic western. Good citizens versus evil villains. A steam train. A stage coach. Horses. Lots of shootouts. Barren desert landscapes. A dusty frontier town. Name a western cliche, and it's there. Except Indians. They're only talked about in this film.

On the other hand, this is also a western with original, non-classic elements in it. Lots of languages. Parts are spoken in Danish, but you can also hear Spanish and Italian from time to time. Plus: a very strong female character, who radiates power although she is mute. Thirdly: the South-African locations. They're not very prominent, because they look very much like the American West. But when you know it, you can't help but think about it.

The film tells the story of a Danish immigrant, who kills two men who raped and murdered his wife. One of them is the brother of a local outlaw, who terrorizes the town until the culprit is found. But the Dane, an ex-soldier, is not easy to capture and confronts the outlaw.

Overall, this film seems to be very much inspired by the Sergio Leone westerns. The visual style is superb, and director Levring uses every trick in the book. Aereal shots, slow motion, close-ups: it's all there. I was amazed by the colours in some scenes - it looked as if they were heavily digitally enhanced. The result is astonishing. And just when you think you've seen it all, Levring surprises with a beautiful and, in a way, revealing end shot.

Sergio Leone created the spaghetti-western. Maybe the time has come now for the smørrebrød-western.
Quite good7/10
"The Salvation" drew my curiosity for two things: the lead and the fact that it's a Danish western.

The atmosphere of the wild-west is really well done and has immersed me in the mid 1800's, and with a well-paced narrative and suspense of a typical revenge-story told effectively.

Mads Mikkelsen shines as the lead but the overall cast is good. Compliments to the screenwriter, too, for creating several characters that I would wish to see more of.

However, what stops me from giving "The Salvation" an 8 or more is the ending, the very final scene. For me, it feels out of place, fake- looking and preachy. It's funny how less than a minute of a scenery- footage can lessen the quality of the entire story.

If you like Open Range, 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit and Unforgiven, you should certainly check this movie out.
a new classic10/10
22 years after "The Unforgiven", a new classic has arrived on screens. Finally, a movie that is worth the price of the (way too high, nowadays) ticket. The movie is a western, without twirls or fripperies. The classic, evergreen, canonical revenge plot, splendidly photographed, directed and interpreted. The dirty, twisted face of Mikkelsen is rock solid. The man is hurt, never broken, and gets his final revenge no matter the personal cost. Hollywood has lost the capability of producing non-bullshit movies, Europe comes helping :) John Wayne, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck and Clint Eastwood are probably welcoming Mikkelsen in the hall of fame.