I vaguely remember this film a few years back, paying little attention, my interest in the Western wasn’t yet sparked then. However now things are very different, much like this oddity of a film that pits two ex-soldiers against each other across open country. One an ex Confederate colonel Carver (Liam Neeson) and a Union captain Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) the hunted man who we believe is entering his final hours after a shot in the arm sends him running for cover in the snowy mountains. Straight away Seraphim Falls (2006) means business, we find out much later what drives Carver to such lengths to see this dangerous loner be hunted down like an animal in a hunting party.
Usually it’s the union solider tracking down the confederate who has wronged him, yet in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) the tables are turned the other way, justice of a personal nature is being dealt out, and here is no different as we seem to move through the seasons from, Winter, spring to Summer and Autumn. The journey itself is mostly back and forth between the two men as they Carver get’s so close with a drive that more befits that of a man wronged by a Native American depicted as a savage, which is more like that of Gideon in whitens clothes, the way he handles a knife with such skill and cruelty, he has learnt these skills somewhere in his past that is never really raised. A man who wouldn’t think twice from stealing from a corpse he had just left, survival is his main priority. Whilst revenge is that is Carver who is hell-bent on justice, holding his four men to account, reminding them about being paid on the collection of Gideon, shooting him to wound, not kill. Every time one of them wants to leave they are remind of the property that they ride on.
With all the casting which was questionable with two non-americans putting on accents, which they did their best at, until Neeson was faced with an Irishman, which makes you think…why didn’t he play it with his own accent? Whilst Brosnan get’s away with it more, having a gravely voice hardly saying a few words through out. For me however it was the weird casting of Anjelica Huston who literally appears out of nowhere as Madame Louise a travelling saleswoman who is found on the salt-flats, who even’s the playing field, acting almost as the wise Native who knows what is about to happen, so steps into speed things up, get it over and done with. Otherwise it’s just odd casting, then again she is perfect in the Wes Anderson world. I wouldn’t say it was inspired, feeling more uncomfortable in the west. The finale is well deflated no-body really wins, even after the big reveal of the motives behind the chase. It’s like my time has been wasted when there was so much to do.
Unless this was a revisionist western and I didn’t see it, a hunt between white American soldiers, after the civil war, altering their characteristics only slightly to play on the good-old white vs. native cliché which has been done numerous times. Or maybe they just missed a few tricks? I’m not sure, maybe a re-watch is in order already?