Western R Running time: 1:52
IMDB rating: 6.7 Aspect: Wide; Languages: English; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Audio: DD 5.1
A great-looking, well-acted Western in the old-school tradition, Seraphim Falls is definitely worth a look for fans of the genre. There's nothing really new here (which explains why it played only briefly in theaters), and more than a few critics noted its obvious similarities to Clint Eastwood's classic The Outlaw Josey Wales. Still, you have to admire director and cowriter David Von Ancken (a 10-year TV veteran making his feature debut) for delivering an engrossing post-Civil War revenge story (cowritten with Abby Everett Jacques) that isn't hobbled by its overly familiar plotting. Blessed by the exquisite cinematography of John Toll (whose credits include The Thin Red Line, Almost Famous and The Last Samurai) and bolstered by a lush but unobtrusive score by Harry Gregson-Williams, this prestigious production begins very well indeed, with a wintry manhunt in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada, circa 1868. Former Union captain Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) is being tracked by a seemingly brutal pursuer named Carver (Liam Neeson) whose four-man posse (including veteran character actors Ed Lauter and Michael Wincott) is soon reduced to two. As the manhunt continues, Brosnan and Neeson make the most of minimal dialogue, and flashbacks give us hints about the tragic event that set this plot in motion. It's a simple, elemental tale of justice in the wilderness, with occasional quirks like a snake-oil vendor (Anjelica Huston) who appears literally out of nowhere, and a top-hatted Indian (Wes Studi) who gives the film a slight, mystical air of mystery. And while a more daring director might have opted for a more powerful visual style, there's something to be said for Von Ancken's straightforward approach, perfectly matched by Toll's breathtaking landscapes, shot on location in Oregon and New Mexico and ranging from raging rivers to sun-baked desert flats. None of this makes Seraphim Falls a particularly exceptional movie, but with a fine cast that also includes such familiar faces as Angie Harmon, Tom Noonan, Xander Berkeley, and Kevin J. O'Connor, there's ample reward in a film that doesn't pretend to be anything more than a respectable entry in its genre.