There’s only so much a man can do when he tries to live a good life. At some point, the world decides to step in and remind him of who he is, of what power he does and does not possess.
The Salvation, directed by Danish film director Chrisitan Levring, is a Danish Western following Jon Jensen in his heartbreaking pursuit of vengeance on a small town gang and their leader. Levring captures a beautiful array of dark and happy colors to accompany the old west setting, almost dreamlike in fact.
Jon Jensen (Mads Mikkelsen) is an ex-soldier during the 1870s who is looking to start a new life. He has not seen his wife or son for nearly seven years due to the war, and the longing he has for them is seen through how anxious he is while waiting.
A smoky locomotive comes screeching to a halt where Jon and his brother, Peter, await Jon’s wife and son at a train station. After they unload, Jon and his family get into a carriage to transport them to a nearby town.
Two strangers (who are actually criminals) crawl into the carriage as well since they are going to the same place, and the five of them are off. A thunderstorm rolls in the background with a few flashes of lightning striking across the sky, and there’s an undoubted feeling that doom will ensue.
During the ride, the two strangers instigate a scuffle with Jon. A couple of tense moments with guns are exchanged and Jon is kicked out of the carriage, somersaulting to a stop.
Jon finds the carriage next to some trees after walking through the night and following the paved trail. The men escorting the carriage are dead, and Jon grabs a rifle lying next to one of their bodies. He shoots the two strangers and finds they have killed his son and wife along with having raped her.
Jon takes them on horseback to where his brother lives and the two of them decide to head west. They stop in a town to get supplies before leaving. The townspeople here are forced to produce a certain revenue for Mr. Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a gang leader. Turns out he is the brother to one of the men Jon shot, and wants him to pay for what he did.
Unfortunately, Mr. Delarue has so much control he is able to have the sheriff capture and deliver Jon for him. We are introduced to the now widowed sister-in-law Madelaine (Eva Green) who is now staying with Delarue. Jon is hung with rope from a pole, and the story continues with more grief and misery to everyone who seems to interact with Jon.
The Salvation puts on display many tribulations life can offer. The film is thought provoking in how it makes the viewer ponder what possible outcomes could happen if circumstances were different for each character. Every character in the film has both good and bad in them and this allows the viewer to separately empathize with them.
This film has both enticing dialogue and a great physical appearance, but lacks a little in encapsulating the revenge Jon seeks. The motive feels somewhat empty and the film suffers slightly from this.