Genre: Drama /
by: David Von Ancken
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Liam
Neeson, Angie Harmon Anjelica Huston
Released by: Samuel
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
Falls” starts out well enough. Deep in the snowy
mountains, we meet a grizzled ex-Union Army captain named
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”