It’s the 1870’s in the American West and Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) had been working there for 7 long years. He immigrated to America and left his family to join him later. When his wife and son are murdered in his stagecoach by bandits, Jon takes things into his own hands and gets his revenge. However, the ruthless gang leader Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) doesn’t like losing his henchmen and is locking the town down until he finds the man responsible. The mute wife (Eva Green) of one of the outlaws also finds herself involved.
The Salvation resurrects the Western Revenge film (if it had died since Django Unchained) and has a fun time setting everything up. There’s really not much said in this film, because talking could get you killed. Then again, not even the silent are safe in this town after the blood of innocents is shed. The film paints a bleak portrait of a world that doesn’t always adhere to the law of the land and the outlaws that once roamed around in Black & White are now back in color. As anyone would assume, bloody violence follows everyone and standoffs are back in fashion.
Mads Mikkelsen is not the sort of man that you want to cross, or be mixed up with. He’s not a man without a heart, but nothing will stop him once he’s set out for revenge. As Jon, Mikkelsen is simply trying to start a new life and some outlaws are making that hard for him. So, naturally, Jon goes the route of overkill and makes sure to put more than a few bullets in each baddies head. Mikkelsen’s eyes tell you all you need to know about whether someone is going to live or die. He doesn’t say much, but his actions definitely speak pretty loud.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Javier Bardem‘s stunt double, plays a menacing outlaw in his own special way. He never yells, he never hits, and he too rarely speaks. Rather than solving things diplomatically, Morgan results to executing townsfolk and his own men that fail him. He’s also a rapist who has convinced himself that he’s a good guy, despite beating a mute woman during sex… Morgan is ruthless and his cold stares are enough to unsettle anyone. He may not be that physically imposing, but Morgan creates chaos in his own way.
Eva Green is getting to play another badass female in this film, but she does and says so much while having her tongue cut out. Green has those bright smokey eyes that communicate her mood quite effectively and that’s exactly what we see here when she’s being mistreated. She’s a lit bomb and she’s bound to go off, but no one will see it coming. She expresses fear and concern and we see it in an instant, as do the other characters. I wish she had a bit more to do, but Green certainly shines when she’s given the spotlight… And a gun.
At only 92 minutes, The Salvation comes and goes rather quickly and in-turn rushes the epic finale that it was building towards. The problems and resolutions in the film are over in what seems like just a few minutes and then there’s a lot of filler time in the middle. Sure, we get to see some of have bad things were back then, but not all of it relates to the protagonists journey. We know nothing of his past and he’s never around anyone long enough to reveal his true character to them. Not to mention the fact that nearly all the outlaws in this film are expendable, both as actors and as outlaws. With more time, there could have been a longer, more cohesive story that really brings you in.
The Salvation burns slow with intensity and lights up by the efforts of the film’s leads and their guns. Mads Mikkelsen continually proves that he can lead a film with the energy that he exudes and here, he’s commanding everything. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Eva Green work well with each other, despite not always seeing eye-to-eye. Watching this western certainly gave me hope that people will rediscover them. Director Kristian Levring has certainly made something that everyone can enjoy.
The Salvation Trailer