“The plot isn’t a complicated one, and fans of Western’s will get a kick out of seeing a ruthless bad guy getting what he deserves from a Clint Eastwood-like hero.”

by Nav Qateel

After Denmark suffers defeat in the 1864 war, former Danish soldiers Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) and his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt) decide to build a new life in America. 7 years later, Jon sends for his wife and son, but the same day they arrive, two newly released convicts kidnap and murder them. Jon kills the murderers, only to have a powerful man come after him. It turns out that one of the killers was the brother of the ruthless Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the man who’s crushing the life out of Black Creek, the local town where Jon and Peter trade. Eventually, it’s all down to Jon to try and get revenge and put a stop to Delarue’s tyranny.

The Salvation
Directed by
Kristian Levring
Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Release Date
Nav’s Grade: B+

Jon is a quiet man, no doubt the result of fighting in a war. He only wanted to have his beautiful wife Marie (played by Danish singer-songwriter Nanna ├śland Fabricius) and son with him in America. When the vicious Delarue destroys everything he had left in the whole world, Jon must become the soldier he once was. Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite actors, with films like The Hunt and After the Wedding highlighting his talent. He doesn’t get a chance to show off those chops in The Salvation but his performance is still solid.

Eva Green plays Madelaine, widow of the man who murdered Jon’s wife, and Delarue’s sister-in-law. Madelaine was once the prisoner of Indians, who cut out her tongue and raped her, until Delarue’s army unit came to the rescue. With her husband now dead thanks to Jon, Madelaine is again a prisoner, only this time it’s Delarue doing the raping. In many ways Madelaine is like Jon, and although her silence is because she lacks a tongue, one gets the feeling she wouldn’t do much talking anyway.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is great in the role of the despicable Delarue. At one point he murders an old woman and a legless man during his search for Jon. As the film progresses, we learn that Delarue isn’t just killing off the Black Creek inhabitants out of badness. There are several hints that direct our attention to the sticky oil that’s seeping up through the ground.

Jon’s brother Peter, played by Mikael Persbrandt, liked to have fun in town while Jon saved himself for Marie. Peter’s skill and bravery were never in doubt, and it’s thanks to him that Jon is able to take the fight to the enemy. Douglas Henshall plays the sheriff and the town preacher. He stands idly by while Delarue kills anyone he takes a dislike to. Jonathan Pryce plays Mayor Keane the undertaker, who’s actually complicit in many ways.

The cinematography is very good, as was the Western themed score. The sets were authentic looking, and even though a lot of shots had CGI added in post-production to disguise the fact the film was shot in South Africa, it all worked to great effect. The plot isn’t a complicated one, and fans of Western’s will get a kick out of seeing a ruthless bad guy getting what he deserves from a Clint Eastwood-like hero. The Salvation is well worth the price of a cinema ticket.