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Seraphim Falls poster

Seraphim Falls

Genre: Drama / Western
Rated: R
Directed by: David Von Ancken
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Angie Harmon Anjelica Huston
Released by:
Samuel Goldwyn Films

In Short: Good performances from adversaries Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson cannot save this western from terminal boredom.

An Endless Trek
This Western Chase Goes On and On and On

by Jenny Peters

Seraphim Falls” starts out well enough. Deep in the snowy mountains, we meet a grizzled ex-Union Army captain named Gideon (Pierce Brosnan), alone and shivering as he cooks a squirrel over a campfire. Suddenly, a shot rings out, wounding him in the arm. And the chase is on.

Gideon's initial flight from his as-yet unidentified pursuers (led by a vengeful Liam Neeson) is the highlight of the film, as he struggles through the freezing elements in an attempt to escape. As the chase continues, flashbacks to the Civil War explain the reasons that Carver (Neeson) has spent the three years since the war's end stalking Gideon.

Pierce Brosnan and Anjelica Huston in "Seraphim Falls"
Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson in "Seraphim Falls"

And stalk he does, endlessly. “Seraphim Falls” goes on and on, down off the mountain, across the prairie and into the desert, as Gideon systematically picks off Carver's gang and stays one step ahead of his pursuers. His prowess as a killer is interesting at first, but like the film as a whole, the action soon becomes repetitive and painfully predictable.

Will the two men end up in a face-off? Of course! It is a western, after all, following all the conventions of the genre, until the final frames, when an element of magical realism is introduced in the form of Angelica Huston, a snake-oil saleswoman who appears out of the blue in the desert. She influences the conclusion in a way that leaves viewers with a feeling of “what the heck is that supposed to mean?” Problem is, by the time we get there, we are so bored with this endless trek that expending any effort to try to figure it out seems like a waste of time.

Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson in "Seraphim Falls"
Pierce Brosnan in "Seraphim Falls"

Both Brosnan and Neeson give believable performances in their Union versus Confederate roles. It isn't the acting that makes “Seraphim Falls” such a disappointment, it is the script. Co-authored by director David Von Ancken, a television director making his feature-film debut, this tale ultimately fails in the most important element of any great Western—creating characters that we care about, then putting them in situations that keep us interested throughout. For that, rent any western helmed by John Ford, Howard Hawks or Clint Eastwood, and save the cost of admission to “Seraphim Falls.”


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