A review of “Seraphim Falls” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: **

Rating: R for violence and bloodshed

Run Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes



Post Civil War revenge is the emotional lynchpin for a Western psychodrama that runs plumb out of ideas in the last act.

Pierce Brosnan is Gideon, a craggy mountain man cum ex-Union captain relentlessly pursued by also ex-Confederate colonel Morsmon Carver (Liam Neeson) who has a personal score to settle.

Think “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” meets “Apocalypto” and you get the drift; the unrelenting pursuit of a worthy adversary, blah, blah, blah. Gideon barely survives a gunshot wound to the shoulder in the opening moments and its game on. His grisly self-induced surgery a la hefty hunting knife is the first of many such testosterone moments as Gideon seeks to endure the vicious manhunt that inexplicably consumes Carver and lays waste to his hired guns.

From the forbidding snow-covered peaks of Nevada’s Ruby Mountains to the lone expanse of a parched desert floor Carver tracks his prey with single-minded fury. Gideon utilizes brain, not brawn, to stay a scant step ahead.

There are flashes of the past; of the mystery that put the pair on a collision course with destiny. A woman, a child, a fire; a climatic drama that holds its secrets close to the vest until the final frames.

Color me surprised: Brosnan is Rambo-in-chaps and more, layering on the guilt and regret and a very human element of self-preservation. Neeson is every part his equal, forced by fierce emotion to obliterate the man who took something precious from him. Irish meets Irish and how.

Would that director David Von Ancken knew the meaning of “less is more”. “Falls” tacks on a preposterous desert showdown that trots out all manner of gimmicky folk -- from a loony medicine woman (Angelica Huston) to a cagey Indian trader (Wes Studi) -- who want something for nothing.

Ultimately the handsome backdrop and hunky talent are for naught – when it’s all said and done “Falls” is more dumbed-down than giddy-up.