Monday, July 6, 2009

A Frank Review of "Seraphim Falls" (2007)

The Short Version? Revenge! Long damned drawn-out revenge!
What Is It? Western.
Who Is In It? Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Michael Wincott and some cameos.
Should I See It? No.

Rob Roy plays an ex-Confederate soldier who has hired a team of guns (including Top Dollar and that character actor who always plays tough cops and bad guys) to hunt an ex-Union Officer (Remington Steele.) James Bond gets all John Rambo/McClane, surviving absurd amounts of bodily harm while perpetrating ridiculous bullshit kills against his pursuers straight out of a clever slasher flick. Then things slow way down, scenery changes, and moralizing pretense gets in the way of the movie's slight charms. Character motivations aren't revealed until the last reel, so all the violence and sermonizing lacks context to invest the viewer beyond a visceral level. Holding back may have been intended as a bait and switch for audience members getting off on the violence, but in truth they're the only ones serviced, as the rest of us are kept at arm's length by scant dialogue and overdue exposition. The film's near two hour running time feels like three, but the story only has the mileage of an old '50s television anthology of less than an hour's length. Worse, the paranormal comes into play toward one of those endings you think is right around the corner, again and again, to no relief. Oskar Schindler is grim and terse. Thomas Crown grunts and whines in pain. Michael Wincott croaks threats like a toad with a 'tude. Anjelica Huston plays the devil. Yes, the friggin' devil, which still isn't as retarded as Wes Studi's mystic Injun' revelation or Angie Harmon's burning revelation-- Aquarius! AQUAAAARIUUUUSS!

The film looks great, thanks to Oscar winning cinematographer John Toll. The script, co-written by first time feature director David Von Ancken, leaves so much to be desired it explains why he was sent back to cable television after this.

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