Northmen: A Viking Saga (2014) – By Kirsten Walsh

“A band of Vikings cross enemy lines and a panicked race begins. The losers will pay with their lives.”

An action packed story of some lost travelers who get caught in a battle for their lives, “Northmen” centers around some shipwrecked Vikings. They banter a bit and argue about their situation before teaming together to take on the bad guys. This film is definitely all about the journey and the adventure. The film was quite well made, the actors were decent, and the overall feel of the film was good. It was nice to see Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”, “Knights of Badassdom”) in a role outside of what is seemingly his usual- a Christian monk who has weapons skills that would put down most hand to hand combat guys in our time.

The film does allow for the wartime grit and gore to be showed prominently, but that’s it. The action.  That is really the only thing holding this film together. The storyline is loose and doesn’t entirely work, the sexual tension that could have been utilized much stronger is wasted to give way for the chase and fight scenes. There are more than a few historical discrepancies that allow the film to function in the way it does- the most obvious being that the film is completely done in the English language. There is little acknowledgment to the fact that the Vikings speak a different language than the Scottish princess that is the key factor to the storyline of the film.

Another thing to note when watching this film is that it is an international film. Headed up by the Swiss, the film was shot in South Africa and featured an international cast. This works in both a positive and negative way. On the positive side, it opens the door for a wider audience. Why was I more incline to watch the film? Honestly? Ryan Kwanten. However, I’m sure some people would be more inclined for British actor Tom Hopper (who plays the Viking lead, Asbjorn), or Irish actress Charlie Murphy (who played the female lead, and one of the only females in the film, Inghean), or Swedish actor and lead singer of the death metal band Amon Amarth (who plays one of the Viking tribesman, Valli). Among the negatives- the storyline is horribly dry. There are so many parts that are just discussed. Just discussed. For a huge action film like this, it seems that there is quite a bit of talking.

While I understand the history of the Vikings and the Scots, the way that the woman in the film is depicted is pathetic. They hand her a crossbow midway through the film (once they realize they can trust her, which is still somewhat questionable), and then she struggles with how to use it for the rest of the film. Why not give her a weapon that is slightly more usable? However, towards the end of the film, it is paid back in giving her one of the great saves of the film.

Technically speaking, this film is quite beautiful. Aside from the messy fight scenes- as well done as they are, they are a bit clustered, the cinematography is scenic and beautiful. There is nothing that truly took me out of the film, which I would consider to be a good thing. The music seemed fitting in a modernist way, with slight moves as putting in some rough metal music, but for some reason that worked. It is seen quite a bit in the trailers of period piece films these days, so why not the actual film as well?

Lastly, my disappointment in the end of the film. I understand that it was done really just to end this sequence, and it was leaving room for a sequel, but come on. It was a little too outrageous.

Would I watch this film again? Probably not. It was nice for a one time watch, but it was a little too dry for me.

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