SERAPHIM FALLS (director: David Von Ancken; screenwriter: Abby Everett Jaques; cinematographer: John Toll; editor: Conrad Buff; music: Harry Gregson-Williams; cast: Liam Neeson (Carver), Pierce Brosnan (Gideon), Tom Noonan (Minister), Anjelica Huston (Madame Louise), Michael Wincott (Hayes), Angie Harmon (Rose), John Robinson (The Kid), Robert Baker (Pope), Ed Lauter (Parsons), Kevin J. O’Conner (Henry); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bruce Davey/David Flynn; Samuel Goldwyn Films; 2006)
“A wearisome revenge Western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A wearisome revenge Western, of the old school, that’s co-written and directed by veteran television director David Von Ancken(“Bullet in the Brain”). It leaves us guessing at what happened at Seraphim Falls. It opens with a fierce Liam Neeson and four hired thugs(Ed Lauter/Michael Wincott/Robert Baker/Kevin J. O’Conner) relentlessly chasing the lone trapper Pierce Brosnan, in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, across Nevada after shooting and wounding him in the gut at the scenic Ruby Mountains in Nevada. The conceptual drama, filled with symbolism, lets us know that something real bad must have happened to Neeson during the war for him to be so vigorous in his pursuit. We eventually learn Brosnan was a captain for the Union, while Neeson a colonel for the Rebs.
The co-writer Abby Everett Jaques helps Von Ancken keep the plot as slight as possible, and they don’t tell us Neeson’s motive until the last part of the film. The overlong story is tedious, and the surreal ending (which has Anjelica Huston suddenly popping up in the desert selling from a wagon snake-oil curatives) is a disappointment. The men go over snow, rivers and the desert, run across settlers, bandits and railroad people. The film is short on dialogue, while its action is gruesomely violent. In a contrived ending, there’s a message metaphor of reconciliation that is awkwardly and unconvincingly delivered.
REVIEWED ON 2/29/2016 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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