Valhalla Rising

Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
Star: Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Ewan Stewart, Gary Lewis

Not quite what I was expecting. It starts off normally enough as enslaved Viking warrior One-Eye (Mikkelsen) escapes from his captors, who have been using him in literal death-matches. Along with a young boy (Stevensom) who was part of the group, He encounters a group of Christian fighters, who are looking to head to the Holy Land as part of the Crusades. One-Eye having seen himself with the group in a vision, and with no other plans, joins up with them. However, the sea voyage goes awry, as they spend an eternity becalmed in an apparently endless fog. When it finally parts, they find themselves near land: just not the Holy one. It's a strange land (likely North America - that's one hell of a wrong turn from Jerusalem!), filled with unfriendly native. The leader (Stewart) decides to claim the land anyway, but it soom becomes clear that the ordeal has driven him mad, and things rapidly go from bad to worse.

Dear god, this is pretentious twaddle, clearly saying something Very Important about... something. Its closest cousin would be Aguirre, but Refn lacks Herzog's ability to craft a compelling storyline, and Mikkelsen, solid actor though he is, can't hold a candle to Klaus Kinski, who could hold your attention simply by staring. And, dammit, is there a lot of staring here. Along with visions. And sitting on a boat. Don't forget the sitting on a boat. Characters wander around the wilderness, burbling nonsense - except for One Eye, who just wanders. After an initially intriguing, almost wordless start, this isn't the Viking action flick I wanted: instead, it's that film's emo, teenage cousin, who spends all the time sitting in his room, listening to My Chemical Romance, and complaining about how no-one understands him.

[May 2013]

Viking nonsense
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