Retro Review: Seraphim Falls

What happens when you take two aging Irish actors and send them out into the Old West to kill each other? Well Seraphim Falls, that’s what.

“Seraphim Falls” stars Pierce Brosnan as Gideon, a man fleeing for his life across snow-capped mountains, vast deserts and hilly terrain. In hot pursuit are his would-be killer, Carver (Liam Neeson) and his posse of men. The two men have a connection that is drenched in blood and flame. That is basically what the whole film is the hunter and the hunted.

Simplicity seems to be the perfect format for the western but what distinguishes a good western from a great western is one that transcends the format. “Seraphim Falls” doesn’t even try which is a shame given the film’s two leads. The film instead tries to focus on the journey which in a better film would have been interesting but how many “man on horseback” silhouetted in shadow does one movie need.

As I look back on the film, I see at least 20 minutes that could have been snipped from this film. It is just way too long for what is in it.

I really liked the performances from both Neeson and Brosnan. I also liked the slow reveal of their connection. The slow reveal allows the audience to see both men as they are in the present before it shows how they got to the pursuit. Slow is one thing but forever is something completely different.

The film’s third act is almost delusional in its concept. You have an angel type character played by Wes Studi and a demon-type played by Angelica Huston. Studi plays a man guarding a watering hole and Huston plays a tonic saleswoman. Were they trying to go for an Odyssey type finale?

There were portions of this film that reminded me some of the classic Robert Redford starrer “Jeremiah Johnson” from 1972 and found that when it embraced that side of the film it really worked. I just wish they would have stayed in the mountains because that portion was a lot more interesting.

I really wanted a lot more intensity and conflict and the film’s first act really delivers just wish it would have maintained that. It worked for Jeremiah Johnson.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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