In Review: The Salvation

by Daniel Goodwin on 17/04/2015


There is something bleak and romantic about classic westerns that has continued to resonate with audiences over the years. Despite their main characteristics being defined by a solitary setting and age, they retain a timeless quality through their human themes of longing, loneliness and regret.  As time passes, and technology advances, the genre seems more pertinent. Last year the brilliant (but largely unseen) Japanese remake of Unforgiven provided a fitting example of western profundity. Now we have director Kristian Levring’s The Salvation: a stark yet sun-drenched story about a Danish migrant’s revenge against the gang of scoundrels that killed his wife and child.

After Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) is hurled from a moving carriage by two deplorable rogues, he sets out to hunt down the gang they belong to and save the town that live in fear of them, but soon finds himself the target of a revenge plot.

The plot is simple with efficient beats, sterling action and evocative cinematography. Strong performances enhance the drama along with a stirring score by Kasper Winding (The Riot Club (2014)). There are times where film feels a tad too template, with a finale that doesn’t quite strike at the heart as hard as the first two acts, but it remains riveting and gritty enough to captivate throughout.

The foreigners in a strange land element appends a sense of alienation coupled with grief which augments Jon’s complexity. Monstrous villain Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) delivers his lines with indolent vehemence, hinting at a fractured psyche beneath the mad dog exterior. Meanwhile, Eric Cantona goes some way to ensure the audience doesn’t simply see him Cantona in a cowboy hat and Eva Green is also on top form as Madelaine, the victimised wife of Delarue’s dead brother.

The Salvation feels like a classic western complimented by various distinctive factors. All of these components combine to make it a deep and brooding experience that should satisfy both genre fans and general audiences. Despite the clichéd finale, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable work from a genre still flourishing and should be ideally viewed on the big screen where the dirty sunsets, sparse landscapes and potent drama can be truly savoured.

Daniel has awarded The Salvation four Torches of Truth

4 torches

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