Neck snapping, head cutting: One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) can do it all.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
In Brief: VALHALLA RISING (2009)
Nicolas Winding Refn's Dark Age thriller is such a cruel picture that the hero is a murderous mute -- and they call him One-Eye! Need I say more? I suppose I should, since the film is probably only an accidental homage to Bo Vibenius's female-revenge extravaganza. If it's a conscious homage to anything it may be to Apocalypse Now -- think of this as Apocalypse Retro. It deals with Vikings, unrepentant pagans driven to the ends of the earth by the advance of Christianity. We find them in a desolate landscape with a prisoner in tow. This is the mute (Mads Mikkelsen), a sort of fighting slave with a high turnover rate of masters. For entertainment men match their might against his. They die. He snaps their necks with his chain, wrapping it around then running until he hits the end of his tether. Sometimes he has a rock handy to smash a skull with. He's getting tired of it; he's having visions. In a stream he finds an arrowhead. He uses it to unbind himself while in transit and kill his captors -- all save the boy who had fed him, who now chooses to follow him. Where else is he going to go? Home? He doesn't know where that is any more. Where's the mute going? He probably has a better idea of when than where.