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John Chard
Sometimes you gotta sacrifice a single sheep to save the rest. The Salvation is directed by Kristian Levring and Levring co-writes the screenplay with Anders Thomas Jensen. It stars Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Cantona, Mikael Persbrandt, Jonathan Pryce and Douglas Henshall. Music is by Kasper Winding and cinematography by Jens Schlosser. 1871 and ex-patriot Danish soldier Jon Jensen (Mikkelsen) is, after 7 years of foundation building, welcoming his wife and son to a new life in America. But after they all board a stagecoach bound for their homestead, events will see that journey not be completed. And thus begins a tale of retribution and redemption. There are few smiles in The Salvation, in fact viewers will need to grab onto the sparse offerings of such very early in the piece. For it's a film of blood, brooding and misery, of intensity and a paucity of the good side of human nature. Levring has managed to successfully blend the traditions of the American Western with the feel of the Euro Spaghetti Oaters. There is so much for Western fans to enjoy here. It's a classic revenger pumped by a good versus bad heart, yet as pared down and as simple as the story may at first seem, there's interesting asides of worth. The issue of Euro immigrants trying to make it in the Wild West is noteworthy, while there's a delicious juxtaposition between two soldiers from different continents, and different wars. Jensen fought the Germans in Europe, while his nemesis, Henry Delarue (Morgan), has been through the Indian wars. A most interesting comparison, one where the characterisations are vividly opposed to each other. Add in a good old town in the grip of a tyrant theme, and a bit of carnal desires upon thine brother's spouse, and it's a spicy hot pot. Filmed at dusty South African locations, there's a scenic beauty surrounding the harsh story. Westerns don't have to be filmed in America to look authentic, and this is a case in point. The town of Black Creek has been called fake looking in some quarters, not so. This is a new up-coming town, it's meant to be wooden and sparse. Hell! The saloon is also the local store, the mayor is also the undertaker, this is a basic Wild West town without frills and fancy. Elsewhere the costuming is splendid, especially Morgan who is nicely dapper in black hat and crimson mack, and there's a whole host of face fuzz on show, which is needed to keep up the whole mud and blood, hard West factor. Levring has an eye for a nice shot, such as a full moon bearing witness, even a traditional slow-mo piece. All that said, irks do exist, Green's character is sketchily drawn, but she's playing a heaving bosom mute (her tongue was cut out by the pesky Indians), so scope for development is admittedly limited. While Winding's score is a bit too modern sounding for the key shoot-out sequences. Ultimately it's great to see the Western is still thriving in this day and age of CGI and blockbuster pandering. From the shattering and moody first quarter to the bloody and excellently staged finale, The Salvation keeps the Western genre well and truly alive. 9/10
> Revenge for a revenge. It is a Danish western revenge flick set in the American soil, so 99 per cent it was in the English language. Well, in my opinion, it is underrated for sure. It was not anything stylish like QT's recent western films, but quite usual presentation yet very majestic. The story takes place in a couple of days in a small town in the 1871. The turnaround in the theme was great. Initially, it leaves an impression of a revenge based tale, but later becomes oil warfare, something quite resembles the original situation of the American at that time. In the last few weeks I have been watching lots of comedies, dramas and other soft themed films, so suddenly I felt too much violence from this. But as always I get used to it after some time in the watch. Great cast and their great performances. The writing was superb along with the settings. I watched it quite late, but the best western I have seen in the recent time, so I strongly recommended for western fans and others who're seeking a fine entertainment. 7.5/10
Per Gunnar Jonsson
This is a decent enough Danish-made spaghetti western. Nothing more and nothing less. It could easily have been a young Clint Eastwood in this movie. Instead the lead character is Mads Mikkelsen who makes a quite reasonable performance as far as I am concerned. I have to say that it felt a bit funny when the characters spoke Danish in the first parts of the movie. It did add a bit of special touch, at least for me, to the movie though. I guess that people who do not understand Danish may be less thrilled about that though. The movie itself is a fairly straightforward good guy versus bad guy revenge story. It is a good old-fashioned Western without any silly complicated plot and without trying to make any attempts to show the “real” west or put a social spin on it. It is clearly made to entertain those who like classical spaghetti westerns. Personally I find it nice that someone are still willing, and can get funding, to make those kind of movies. I liked both Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green, although her role is mute, as well as Jeffery Dean Morgan as the bad guy. Having said that, the movie falls a bit short of being a great spaghetti western. It never really manages to create that grim atmosphere around the lead character when he embarks on the road of revenge and I have to say that the end fight felt a bit meh. Nevertheless this is a decent enough movie which should please most fans of classical old Western movies. I for one consider it a worthwhile addition to my collection.

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