The exploitation revenge thriller hits the old west hard in Kristian Levring’s The Salvation, a super tight, fast paced 90 minute kick in the teeth. Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen stars as Jon, a Danish war veteran who’s been in America for seven years trying to build a life for his family. On the day his wife and young son arrive from Denmark to join him they are brutally kidnapped, raped and murdered by the brother of a crooked local Land Baron (Watchmen’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Needless to say, the old soldier Mikkelsen exterminates the rapists with extreme prejudice, putting him in Morgan’s crosshairs.
Mikkelsen fits the “strong silent” avenger role like a glove, letting his stone-faced visage guide his unstoppable resolve. Morgan has a lot of fun as the “black hat”, going just to the edge with his villainous portrayal but not to the point of chewing scenery. Jonathan Pryce also shines here as the cowardly Mayor of the Town who doubles as the Undertaker. The real star of the show though is Eva Green, as the mute “Princess” of Morgan’s gang, having had her tongue cut out by Indians as a child she was apparently “rescued” by Morgan’s brother, but the pain in her eyes tells the whole story, and says more than dialogue ever could.
Those who love stories of pulpy vengeance shouldn’t avoid this dark fairy tale just because of the Cowboys and Indians motif. This one packs a punch, From Mikkelsen’s initial outburst of retribution to extended bloody finale and several clever twists and turns along the way. Highly recommended.
The Salvation is now available on VOD.