So much awesome potential, but never fully realizes it.
How many westerns feature a Bond Girl (Eva Green), and not one but TWO Bond Villains (Mads Mikkelsen & Jonathan Pryce)? And let’s not forget Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing one of the meanest SOBs he’s done yet. Have your attention yet?
Set in America, but filmed completely in Denmark, “The Salvation” is a visually satisfying Western. It’s very “cool looking.” While somewhat difficult to put into words, the trailer gives a taste of this film’s style. It may be a bit overdone at times, but coupled with some interesting color choices (ex:Morgan’s overcoat) it’s quite entertaining. It’s hard to think of another Western that embraces this stylized look.
The plot is an old one to be sure: murder, vengeance, more murder and vengeance, rinse, and repeat. However, it’s not the plot, but the script that elevates a movie. The script on this one shows a lot of potential, but something happens halfway through the film and they take the easy way out, dropping the subplots. For example, Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Delarue. At first Delarue appears to be your typical Western bully. The whole town is scared of him, he kills people on a whim, and he has a gang of villains to back him up. We later learn he’s an ex soldier who used to be a good man, but came back from the war changed. (PTSD?) A bit later we also learn that he’s not acting on his own behalf but as an employee of a larger mafia-like “protection company” who are less than pleased with his methods. These tidbits give the character considerably more depth and tease potential conflicts later in the story. But after this tease, it’s never resolved! The protection company is never seen again and we don’t get to see Delarue battling any moral conflicts,he’s just back to your average, two-dimensional villain.
There are other aspects in the film like this as well, teasing so much more, then not delivering. During the final conflict, we are given a handful of cool scenes, but it ends up feeling underwhelming. It devolves into the typical wild west shootout with bodies dropping from various heights.
If you’re hankering for a stylish western, go check out “The Salvation.” Just don’t expect it to fully deliver during the second half of the film.