DVD Review: Valhalla Rising
It’s a little while into Valhalla Rising that it suddenly dawns on you that no one has uttered a word. The only reason you haven’t missed the presence of narration or conversation is Mads Mikkelsen’s disturbingly unhinged command of your mind. Refn’s delivery of a Viking warrior, caught and forced to fight for his supper, with the odds squarely set against him, is a visual masterpiece, with a visceral violence that draws you into the scene and won’t let you back to the comfort and safety of your couch.
This violent introduction to Mads character One Eye promises one kind of a film, but Refn delivers a different kind of journey than the one you’re expecting. Whilst One Eye’s escape from capture is as violent as his introduction to us, and certainly earns the film’s R18 rating many times over, this is a contemplative spiritual/mystical journey that Refn is taking us on.
The only trouble is, that while Refn is more than capable of portraying violence and drawing you into the film, with majestic, moody landscapes that portray a time of foreboding, he is relatively ham-fisted when it comes to creating a mystical tale and instead creates misdirection and confusion.
Still, Valhalla Rising manages to keep you captivated by the mere presence of Mads Mikkelsen, and long drawn out sequences and confusing mystical moments are easily overlooked as you anticipate the next time Refn allows Mads to let loose.
In the end, the film is as bizarre as it is violent, but certainly worth the time for Mads performance alone, and the stunning, if depressing, scenery.
Rating: R18 Graphic Violence.