Title – The Northman (2022)
Director – Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse)
Cast – Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, Willem Dafoe
Plot – Young viking Amleth (Skarsgård) sets out on a dangerous path of revenge that will see him battle both in body and in mind as he seeks vengeance on those who murdered his father.
“You must choose between kindness for your kin, and hatred for your enemies”
Review by Eddie on 23/05/2022
Three films into his directional career, it’s safe to say that filmmaker Robert Eggers isn’t afraid to let things get a little weird.
Bursting onto the scene with the unnerving modern horror classic The Witch and backing that up with the flatulence infused oddity The Lighthouse, Eggers returns to the big screen with his biggest budget and highest profile epic yet in the form of viking revenge tale The Northman but anyone heading into this uncompromising and unnerving feature expecting a typical sword swinging action film are going to be left bemused very early on by what Eggers in fact has in stall for Alexander Skarsgård’s hate filled Amleth as he tracks down his father’s killer to Iceland during the viking era of early A.D.
Budgeted between $70-$90 million dollars, there’s a case to be made for Eggers venture being one of the most surprising studio films of 2022 and perhaps those backing Egger’s story in expected something with a little more mass audience appeal but Eggers never shys away from the fantastical elements of viking lore, all the while sticking close to his horror infused roots as The Northman becomes something of a fever dream that is unrelenting in its bleakness, violent underbelly and goals to give viewers an experience that is hard to describe and undeniably divisive.
At its core a familiar revenge tale with an equally familiar main protagonist who favours action over communication, Eggers never lets his film linger too long in the realm of the comfortable and while early on audience members may feel as though this stunningly shot epic is heading towards familiar territory, there’s never much space in between narrative elements and visceral overload, ensuring that The Northman becomes an experience unlike any other, whether you hate, feel nothing for or love the film you lay witness too.
As has become the expectation from an Eggers film, The Northman is a stunningly well shot film that from a production and technical stand point is of the highest order and Eggers ability to capture his tales action, horror and fantasy is some of his finest work yet in a short but exciting career and while the films inability to really click into gear on an emotional level holds it back, there’s no doubt The Northman offers up a spectacle worthy of the big screen treatment.
In amongst all the nose lopping, entrails and swinging Willem Dafoe’s is also Egger’s most loaded cast yet (that nicely features most of the main cast of The Witch in varied roles) and front and centre to most of the proceedings is a ripped and Tom Hardy like Skarsgård who goes all in as Amleth, a character we never get to deep dive into but one we can get on board with as he goes about his seemingly simple but far from it quest of vengeance and his ably supported by the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman and Claes Bang who don’t all get a lot to do but make the most of their screen-time in what’s likely to stand out as one of their most bizarre C.V entries.
Final Say –
There’s no way to properly prepare for the strangeness that emanates from the very core of The Northman, a film that’s unlikely to feel like the one advertised for many viewers but while it misses the mark in a few areas, this bloody viking revenge tale once more proves that director Robert Eggers is a unique and unflappable talent intent on doing things his way.
3 1/2 blind Icelandic singers out of 5