The Horror Honeys: The Salvation ~ 'Never Start a Fight You Can't Win...'

The Salvation ~ 'Never Start a Fight You Can't Win...'

A Revenge Honey "Where are my pants?" Review by Linnie

The Salvation (2015)

It's no secret that Mads Mikkelsen has his share of fans at The Horror Honeys. #MadspoitationMonday didn't start because we don't like looking at his chiseled Danish face. Hannibal was the jumping off point for many, but personally, I became enamored with him after his Bond villain outing in Casino Royale. Yes, Hannibal Lecter may be the role that we fell in love with, but I never tire of seeing Mikkelsen show off his remarkable skill as an actor in film. The newest addition to that list is Kristian Levring's The Salvation, and outside of being a wonderful Mads vehicle...

It's just a damn good movie.

The Story: Danish homesteader and war veteran Jon Jensen (Mikkelsen) has been preparing a home in America for his family, with the help of his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt). The film opens as Jon picks up his newly arrived wife and son at the train station, and board a wagon bound for their new home. Two men join them in the wagon, and immediately make it clear their intentions are nefarious. Jon's family is murdered, and he tracks down and murders their killers in short order. But alas, one of the killers is the brother of a vicious gang leader (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who makes it his mission to hunt Jon down. Betrayed by the people of his town and alone with his grief, Jon must continue his journey of revenge, or die trying.

Instantaneous feels.
As a fan of Westerns, there is no denying that usually, they are very similar. The American West was brutal, violent, and generally unpleasant. It's no coincidence that Elvis Presley only made one true Western, and it's the only film he ever died in (it's a valid analogy... bite me). I won't say that The Salvation is revolutionary in its story, but what it is is beautiful. Instead of using the typical bright and overwhelming lighting of the typical Western, Levring shot and edited the film in beautiful tones of sepia and gray. The Salvation never tries to make anything pretty, which by extension makes it even more lovely.

Gah, editing and cinematography boner.
Which is not to say The Salvation is a lovely film. It is, itself, as brutal and violent as any horror film you're likely to see that isn't purposefully trying to be shocking. The villains, especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the opportunistic gang leader Henry Delarue, are completely unsympathetic, but it a way that is never cartoonish. You never stop aching for Jon to get his revenge, regardless of how he must accomplish it.

You sir, are a wang. A sexy, sexy wang.
One element that the Western is notorious for is featuring a weak, damsel-in-distress that is considered necessary to anchor the audience to something good (the lone exception to my mind being Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man). But The Salvation stars Eva Green, and anyone that knows Eva Green knows she doesn't do "damsel-in-distress." Green stars as Madelaine, or "The Princess" as Morgan's character calls her. Madelaine is his sister-in-law, now a widow thanks to Jon, and while she is mute, Green conveys more with just a look or gesture than many actresses can manage in a whole career. Madelaine is not there to remind the audience of all that is good in the world, but to remind them that women are often the strongest when their backs are against the wall.

I love you.
Written by Levring and Anders Thomas Jensen (screenwriter of stunning Oscar winner In a Better World),  have crafted a film set in the 1870s that manages to act as a remarkable allegory for our current social and political climate. A parting shot will seem eerily familiar, and seek to remind you that sometimes, the most vocally virtuous are the ones you must look out for. And the people on the margins are the ones to be trusted.

And the scenery isn't too bad either.
Revenge Honey Rating: 5 "I really don't like Michael Raymond-James'" out of 5

The Salvation is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD

Do you enjoy westerns? 
Let's talk on Twitter: @linnieloowho