Combustible Celluloid
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With: Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Anjelica Huston, Michael Wincott, Ed Lauter, Robert Baker, John Robinson, Kevin J. O'Connor, Tom Noonan, Angie Harmon, Xander Berkeley
Written by: David Von Ancken, Abby Everett Jaques
Directed by: David Von Ancken
MPAA Rating: R for violence and brief language
Running Time: 115
Date: 09/13/2006

Seraphim Falls (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Strange Shoot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

If we could delete one sequence from David Von Ancken's Seraphim Falls, it would be an exceptional modern Western, not unlike Monte Hellman's simplistic, existential The Shooting (1966). Left in, the sequence not only destroys the rhythm and mystery of the film, but also insults the audience -- after trusting us for over an hour. But even so, the majority of the film demonstrates skill and surprise, as well as a taste for brutality. Seraphim Falls opens well, with trapper Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) sitting down to a roasted rabbit in the snow-covered wilderness. After a few minutes, a shot rings out and stings him in the shoulder. The offending shooter, Carver (Liam Neeson), orders his hired goons (Michael Wincott, Ed Lauter) to find the body, which they fail to do. This results in an amazing chase through frozen woods, chilled rivers, rocky lowlands and finally the baking desert (all photographed by John Toll, of The Thin Red Line). One man tries to escape and/or defend himself and the other relentlessly charges on. Unfortunately, Von Ancken (a director on television shows like "Oz," "The Shield," "Cold Case" and "CSI: NY") and his co-writer Abby Everett Jaques decide to explain the reason for the feud; it's a poorly-handled scene, overplayed to the point of ridiculousness. Anjelica Huston appears as a mysterious, hallucinogenic figure near the movie's climax.

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