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on 27 May 2009
Last year we were spoilt rotten with westerns which is highly unusual as they were a rare breed. We had this film Seraphim Falls, The Assasination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and 3:10 To Yuma. All three films are very good indeed but for me I would say Seraphim Falls is the best and was the least known too. Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson both give career best performances, they really are most excellent in their roles.The whole of the film is set against the most breathtaking backdrops which look amazing on Blu-ray. Liam Neeson is hunting Pierce Brosnan down with a group of men for vengeance over something that happened at the end of the Civil War. The ending is very mysterious and most satisfying. If you are a big fan of westerns then you can't afford to miss Seraphim Falls as it really is top class stuff.
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on 27 January 2010
Continuing the spate of recent westerns including,, the Out-Back set The Proposition, 3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa, and The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford among others is Seraphim Falls, an enjoyable story and worthwhile film centered around the bitter pursuit of a one time union solider, played terrifically by Pierce Brosnan, by a an ex military Colonel portrayed by the great Liam Neeson. It is relentless if initially ambiguous nature of Neeson's pursuit that sets up the entire film. As this is virtually a hunter and prey chase the rest of the characters provide a substitute in the gap of a fully realized story or plot. That's not to imply that Seraphim Falls is not in possession of a decent character or even an idea outside of it's two main guns but whatever of the claims by Brosnan in the behind the scenes doc about this being an anti-war film Seraphim Falls exists for the chase, the hunting of Brosnan's man by Neeson and it is with great relief that two such actors provide nuance and screen presence to accompany the typically well-shot and appealing landscapes as they not only provide and sustain the viewers interest but manage to extract several quiet, emotional moments that subsidies the harsher aspects of the story with moments of genuine human feeling, giving a faint but real heart-beat to a film that could have descended into meaningless bursts of violence accompanied by picturesque foregrounds.

I think on the strength of the performances alone, in addition to the two leads we are treated to appearances from the likes of Michael Wincott, Angelica Huston, Tom Noonan and several other familiar faces, Seraphim Falls is easily worth a look but there are several other factors that bolster the film, namely the stunning imagery provided by the landscape ranging from frost ridden mountain passes to the unforgiving, desolate stretch in the desert as the film progresses.

The story itself is close to essentially being one elongated chase sequence between Carver (Neeson's) and a group of hired guns by his side never terribly far behind Gideon (Brosnan). From the start we brief shoot-out that leads to probably the most impressive set piece in the film involving Gideon and a pounding waterfall descent. From there Gideonis put through his paces be it tending to a wound by gouging out a bullet from his arm or attemtping to avoid running foul of unscrupulous characters that run abound in films such as these. And that always been one of my favorite traits in westerns, their seemingly endless landscapes existing as perfect grounds for directors to give very good actors grounds to suddenly, in the case of Seraphim Falls literally, appear out of nowhere sometimes in wonderfully bizarre fashion as here-Angelica Huston in particular in a brief but memorable supporting performance. As the plot of Seraphim Falls is essentially a chase through the wilderness, occasionally punctuated by bursts of violence (being a hired gun appears to have been a more than precarious means of getting by) as well as the aforementioned cameos that crop up rather regularly the filmmakers wisely hit the ground running with a brief shoot-out that leads to probably the most impressive set-piece, involving Gideon and a pounding waterfall descent that sends us on our way through a story that to my best estimation works out as chase-halt-meet intriguing side character-chase-halt-intriguing character etc until the finale which is plays around with symbolism to an extent that is slightly at odds with what proceeds it but to it's credit avoids any by the number shoot-outs and resolves itself on a more cerebral level.

Having possibly out-stayed my welcome I'll wrap things up by referencing what one critic remarked of Seraphim Falls. Without a clear-cut "bad guy" the film is even more interesting but it's down to the excellent work by the two leads that keeps these men interesting. Flashbacks, more or less, provide reasons for why each man is where he is but their characterization never really grows beyond a sketchy outline-not that it really needs to give more of either here- Nessons forceful screen presence and the sympathetic, oddly interesting appearance Brosnan takes on keeps the motor on Seraphim Falls alive (I think with two lesser actors the film would have died in the waters), and that for me was enough for what is, as advertised, a gritty chase and revenge western. Strong acting, a feast for the eyes in the backdrop and confident direction (from co-writer David Von Ancken) draws my hand here and though not on a par with other films in the genre that have seen release in the decade just past, Seraphim Falls is for the most part a gripping western worthy of your attention. 3.5/5

DVD extras include a directors commentary which also has Brosnan's participation and there's a behind the scenes feature with the producers, director and lead actors that runs for approximately twenty minutes
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2008
A film of two halves, but with a somewhat uncomfortable join.
This movie starts off with one of the most gritty and riveting hunts in recent memory. Pierce Brosnan's weatherbeaten and hardened ex Union officer is the hunted one, and Liam Neeson is the hunter, driven remorselessly by the ghosts of his past. The cold of the mountains, the pain of using a knife to gouge out a bullet and cauterize the wound, the chill of the water, the close quarters kills with the knife, all make for a visceral start with minimal dialogue and little explanation. Each man is completely single minded - one on survival, and one on revenge. As the chase moves onto the plains, we discover more about their past and the reason for the chase, marking a change in tone of the movie. As the plains give way to the desert, the movie takes an altogether more mythical and almost surreal mood, which is sure to divide audiences. Those expecting an action packed climax to the chase may feel cheated, however what we do get is at the very least thought provoking and I think lingers in the memory much more than a conventional showdown would have.
The director borrows heavily from the greats - the revenge themes of many a spaghetti Western, with the repeated flashbacks revealing a little more each time we see them reminiscent of Leone, also Ford's `The Searchers', as well as the atmosphere of Eastwood's Westerns. Borrowed the styles may be, but they are put together with a unique voice and vision, albeit in a somewhat hollow way in which the director too often substitutes myth and images for true drama. But what startling images they are! The photography is beautiful, whether it is the stark beauty of the mountains and snow, or the green of the plains or the arid expanses of the desert, and the images of the men facing off, or Angelica Huston in the desert, will stick with you.
The musical score to the movie is surprisingly restrained, but is a perfect accompaniment to the story - at first minimalist and somber in minor keys, reflecting the movies tone of survival and single mindedness, then the score switches to something more traditional as it enters the plains and the sphere of a traditional Western, and finally becomes wistful and dreamlike in the final stages. It's imaginative and subtle, always in the background and never grabbing your attention, but adding immensely to the tone and feel of the movie, almost like another character.
It is the final third of the movie which feels just a little longer than it should, with some ideas dragged out, and with changes of tone which leave the viewer almost feeling like he is being asked to start a new movie. What helps keep the viewer hooked are the leads, who are terrific, the two Irishman fitting into a Western with great assurance. Brosnan in particular makes the most of a very physical role, with much more subtlety than we might expect. Otherwise, a strong supporting cast of character actors is great to watch but frankly is given little of substance to do.
This is a flawed film, to be sure - but nonetheless it achieves what great cinema is supposed to - it stirs the emotions, and makes you think. Recommended.
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on 19 March 2009
This is one of the best Westerns I've ever seen, and on blu-ray it looks excellent. I had to watch it again just one week after having watched it the first time, I enjoyed the visuals and the story that much. The movie is much more realistic than the average Western, there are no saloons, riverboats nor sheriffs, just a cold snowy mountain at the beginning of the movie, from where the story begins to unfold. You can feel the cold winter air and the cold rushing waters. Seraphim Falls will take you back in time to witness a struggle to survive and avenge.
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on 20 February 2008
I like Westerns but I gave this one a miss in the cinema as it had a lot of negative reviews. I'm now sorry I did as, whilst I can see that this film wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, I absolutely loved it. It's a movie that's not afraid to take its time in unfolding the story. I think you've definitely got to be in the right mood to watch it. It's certainly not an all-action, pop corn type of film, although it has more action in it than I was lead to believe from certain reviews.

In my opinion, the main thing this film has going for it is atmosphere. The scenery is gorgeous and varies greatly throughout the whole picture. The acting from Brosnan and Neeson is top notch (Brosnan being particularly good).

As you've probably read elsewhere, the film has a ... 'different' sort of ending with supernatural/spiritual overtones. A lot of people seem to have had a problem with this but it didn't feel at all out of place to me.

But still, this does seem to be a film you love or hate. I loved it; I leant my copy to a friend who fell asleep half way through.
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on 18 February 2008
Seraphim Falls almost makes it into the territory of the great westerns. It is well acted (I haven't seen Brosnan this good in anything), beautifully shot and moves along at a wonderfully measured pace. Essentially, this is picaresque journey through the west structured around a revenge narrative. Neeson is tracking Brosnan. As the chase goes on, both parties meet interesting characters. And then they eventually meet face to face.

The film has a grit and a reality at its core, but also is alive to the sheer strangeness and multiplicity of the frontier, and the ending I found genuinely surprising. The one bum note in the film is the Neeson character's backstory which is, after all, the engine driving the whole narrative. The loss of his family is certainly reason enough for his quest, but as depicted it lacks power and drama (see, perhaps, The Outlaw Josey Wales for much more effective presentation of similar dramatic material).

Highly recommended.
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From the word go this film is fantastic. The action starts about 30 seconds into the film and then it's relentless as we're taken on a non-stop ride, as one man is hunted down by a band of hired guns.

The acting is excellent, as you'd expect from this cast, the story - although nothing particularly new - is well executed, exciting, and pushed to its extremes, with some very original ideas thrown in to keep each scene fresh (*****SPOILER ALERT***** the bear trap set to swing from a tree and take a mans head off being one example ***** SPOILER OVER). The scenery is stunning and takes in many different types of landscape as Pierce is hunted down; the chase starts in the snow covered mountains and ends in a sun bleached desert for instance, and Blu Ray is the perfect medium for the stunning terrain.

Throughout the film you're not really sure who the good guy is or who's the baddy - is it pierce or Liam? You're never sure until the end when the reason for the chase is revealed, and this ads to story immensely as you watch, engrossed, trying to figure out what's what, second guess and work out the story for yourself before all is reveal.

With plenty of action, twists, turns and double crosses this is a great film which I loved. It's very simple - from start to finish it's a none stop chase; a man hunt that rivals The Fugitive, Coogan's Bluff or any other film of a similar ilk. Is it a western? Yes and no - it's set in the wild west, but that really is about all. So if you're not a fan of westerns don't be put off by it: in the spirit of the film, hunt down a copy now! I have no hesitation in giving this 5 stars. Awesome stuff.

If this review was helpful at all please give it a thumbs up.
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on 22 February 2015
Long-time fan of Liam Neeson. For me he has never given a poor performance and in this interesting western he is magnificent. Never really rated Pierce Brosnan, that is until this movie where Brosnan matches Neeson line for line. An American western headlined by two Irish actors surely has to be unique.
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on 28 December 2007
As a lover of westerns I really wanted to see this at the cinema but as the same as the recent remake of 3:10 TO YUMA it was on for about a week so I never got the chance! So as soon as this came out I thought I would take a chance and buy it. First off, it's not perfect. It is quite slow in places and the story builds up gradually. It isn't action packed but when the action comes its tough and realistic. It also seemed odd watching Pierce Brosnan as a cowboy sporting a beard like Yosemite Sam but on the whole his performance was good. As too was Liam Neeson. These are too modern actors not normally associated with westerns so it was quite refreshing to see them in one. The story and direction are good but what really makes this movie is the cinematography which is simply superb. The scenery in the West is just stunning to look at and this film captures its expansiveness brilliantly. It may not be the best of the recent westerns - check out Kevin Costner's much underrated and quite brilliant OPEN RANGE for example - but it's always great to see a western and the fact that too such high profile stars as Brosnan and Neeson were involved bodes well for the future.
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No film is perfect - at least none that I've seen; and this one does have its flaws, particularly involving the ending, which is quite bizarre to say the least. Nevertheless, there is much to compensate for those flaws, not least the acting of both stars and supporting cast, and, apart from the ending, it's easy to banish them to a level just below that of conscious awareness and allow them to drift away.

Essentially, it's a chase and revenge movie set against a backdrop of sumptuous scenery and majestic skies; Neeson, in company with four `employees', doggedly pursues Brosnan across frozen mountainous wastes and parchment dry deserts and, on several occasions, comes close to seizing and dispatching his quarry for reasons, not forthcoming until we approach the end. Along the way, we meet various ancillary characters that add a bit of spice to what might otherwise have been a somewhat one dimensional narrative.

As others have mentioned, it is quite slow paced for a chase movie but I didn't find it any less tense for that and felt the pace a perfect match for the vastness of the country across which the pursuit took place.
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