Good old fashioned Westerns have been in short supply recently, but this year we are getting at least two of them; Slow West will be with us in a few weeks time, but first we get The Salvation.
This bleak, gritty, unforgiving look at just how tough and grim life was for pioneers out west stars Mads Mikkelsen as Danish farmer Jon, who has come to the States to set up a farm.
On the day his wife and son join him from Denmark they are slaughtered by the brother of a notorious outlaw (Jeffrey Dean) whose gang has been terrorising the local town. In what appears to be an act of wilful lunacy, Jon sets off on a course of bloody vengeance, pitting himself against a bunch of ruthless killers. But as he picks off his opponents one by one, homing in on the head honcho, he finds himself with an unlikely accomplice -the mute wife (Eva Green) of the very man who murdered his family.
Director Kristian Levring shot the movie in South Africa and the dry, dusty, desolate landscapes perfectly complement the pared-down brutality of the story. At times, it looks like this godforsaken land is on fire, while an almost wordless Mikkelsen really is on fire; his jaw set as firm as the rocky backdrop and his eyes ablaze with the thirst for revenge.
There are no soft edges here and no quarter given, meaning the film is more akin to the Unforgiven than homely westerns. It’s tough and it’s lean and tastes of gun smoke and blood; an acquired taste certainly, but a distinctive one.