Synopsis: The mighty Mads Mikkelsen unleashes a maelstrom of bloodshed in the Wild West in this white-knuckle tale of revenge. When he lays waste to the scoundrels who killed his wife and son, a Danish ex-soldier (Mikkelsen) incurs the wrath of a sadistic gang leader hell-bent on hunting him down.
Release Date: February 27, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Most people know Mads Mikkelsen as either Dr. Hannibal Lecter on “Hannibal” or as the Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. Despite his relatively newfound American success, Mikkelsen has been a commodity in his native Denmark for decades. He shows that he can play the hero just as well as he plays the villain in his newest Danish movie, a western called The Salvation.
The Salvation stars Mikkelsen as Jon, an immigrant in 1870s America who has just brought his wife and son over from the old country. The family is barely reunited when the wife and son are killed by a pair of recently released convicts. Jon tracks them down and has his revenge, killing them both but not knowing that one of them is the brother of a dangerous outlaw named Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan from Watchmen and The Possession). Delarue comes to town looking to get a little revenge of his own, but also ends up claiming his dead brother’s widow, a mute woman named Madelaine (Eva Green from Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), for himself. The town turns it back on Jon, forcing him to stand up to Delarue and his gang on his own, but Jon finds allies in unexpected places.
There’s some interesting geography at work in The Salvation. It’s a Danish film that takes place in America but was shot in South Africa. The dialogue is mostly English, but has a few scenes of Danish and a tad bit of Spanish tossed into the mix. It was directed by Kristian Levring (Fear Me Not) from a script that he wrote along with Anders Thomas Jensen (In A Better World), and it would appear that the two have really done their homework, because The Salvation is a pretty convincing attempt at the most American of genres, the western. Deep down, with its themes of revenge against criminals and standing up against unsurmountable odds, it’s just a slick combination of True Grit and High Noon, but it’s done right. The Salvation has plenty of action, a few clever twists, and just enough brutality to satisfy even the most insatiable of spaghetti western fans. All that’s missing is a white hat for Mads Mikkelsen (Jeffrey Dean Morgan has his black bad-guy hat on his head for much of the film).
The western is a genre that seems to die out and re-animate itself every few years. If The Salvation is any indication, America should start looking to European filmmakers for their westerns, or at least to the Danes; they got it pretty close to right this time.
The score to The Salvation was done by Danish composer Kasper Winding (The Riot Club), and he does a great job at imitating the music of classic American westerns without making the score sound like a complete Elmer Bernstein rip-off. Winding’s music combines lush strings and woodwinds with the down-home sounds of twangy acoustic guitars, providing the score with a unique sound that lets the viewer know that the film is a throwback to classic westerns without calling too much attention to itself. Winding scores the fight scenes with less of a country style, making a comfortable switch to more driving, rhythmic anthem-style music that suits the action just right. Winding’s music is comparable to that of Ennio Morricone, only without the instantly recognizable style, so the soundtrack for The Salvation is a bit anonymous; there’s no real musical “theme” to the movie, just a bunch of background music. Still, Winding’s score works well within the revisionist western context of the film. Fun Fact: Kasper Winding is the half-brother of Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and the first husband of Stallone ex and “Celebrity Rehab” patient Brigitte Nielsen.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Kristian Levring
- Screenwriter(s): Anders Thomas JensenKristian Levring
- Cast: Mads Mikkelsen (Jon)Eva Green (Madelaine)Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Delarue) Eric Cantona (Corsican)Mikael Persbrandt (Peter)Douglas Henshall (Mallick)
- Editor(s): Pernille Bech Christensen
- Cinematographer: Jens Schlosser
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Kasper Winding
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: