The 1870s among new settlers and outlaws, Danish immigrant Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) has been waiting for years to bring his wife and son to the United States. When he finally succeeds, moments after their arrival they fall victim to a horrific crime. Out of grief and despair Jon kills the perpetrator. His actions unleash powerful forces. His victim's brother is the ruthless Colonel Delarue who terrorises the town of Black Creek and will stop at nothing to avenge his brother. Betrayed and ostracised by the community, Jon must transform himself from peaceful settler to fearless warrior to save the town and find peace.
Unforgiven, Danish Style
- The Salvation review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 3
On the plus side, what we have here is a Scandanavian movie which, like many films made outside Hollywood, does whatever the director thought was a good idea, as opposed to being homogenized out of existence by a committee trying to jump on the latest bandwagon before the kids get bored with it. What the director is trying to do is to make a good old-fashioned western like they don't make any more. Hero suffers Very Bad Thing at the hands of Very Bad People, Hero takes entirely justified revenge, The End. And full marks to Kristian Levring for avoiding the temptation to turn his movie into yet another Tarentinoesque spaghetti western pastiche where the protagonist basically has superpowers and takes down an army with his immense gimmicky guns in slow motion; though possibly he was just being sensible, since he obviously didn't have anything like the kind of budget Tarentino gets, so blowing up towns and slaughtering hundreds of baddies with giant weapons was never really an option. On a related note, since America in the 19th. century received vast numbers of immigrants from all over the place, there's no reason at all why the hero of a western shouldn't be Danish - other independent European directors take note!
On the other hand, it's just a little bit too faithful an homage to the classic westerns, to the point where it becomes somewhat stylized and formulaic. It was a good move to make the hero an ordinary man who, apart from his military background, has no special qualities other than courage fueled by rage at the dreadful things done to those nearest to him. Unfortunately, with a few token and poorly developed exceptions, characterization is almost non-existent, and just about everybody is a complete scumbag. Likewise, the settings, in particular the villain's lair, a town almost all of which has been partially burnt down for reasons nobody ever bothers to tell us, seem too minimalist to be real places rather than environments which exist to facilitate shootouts, and the use of rather odd filters that exaggerate certain colors makes the whole thing seem a bit unreal, thus somewhat defeating the point of making the action believably realistic, since that very realism often makes the extensive and sometimes ugly violence less dramatic and/or exciting than it would have been in a more over-the-top movie.
Overall, this is a solid attempt at a traditional western with a few modern stylistic touches, and the nods to other classic westerns are seldom too obtrusive, apart from loads of indications that Kristian Levring likes "A Fistful Of Dollars" a hell of a lot, and "High Noon" not so much (which puts him in partial agreement with John Wayne, who hated both of them with a passion). But I think it's been a little bit overrated by some critics just because we've seen so few decent westerns in the last 40 years that it seems more original than it really is. By the way, in case you're wondering, the actor called Eric Cantona playing the evil henchman clearly based on Mario Brega's character in "A Fistful Of Dollars" really is the same guy who used to be far better known as a footballer.
Left this big Mads fan dissapointed
- The Salvation review by TJ
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You rated this film: 2
Ok I've been a Mads fan for about 6 years starting with his Danish movies and then following to his more US friendly tableau... but this film has left me infuriatingly dissapointed.
Whilst the s rip is partly to blame, I always believe a sign of a good actor/actress is the movies they choose to do... They proof read the script before signing, so in this case Mads picked a poor movie.
Mads is at his best when he plays strong quirky character driven drama/comedy...