Photo from Awards Daily

Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) was a young prince whose father was murdered by his uncle. He goes into hiding and becomes a Viking who is utterly consumed by his fury. After meeting a seeress, he sets out to complete his revenge and fulfill the vow he made to himself as a child: “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjolnir.”

Rober Eggers is back with his third feature-length film. And if there is one thing that he excels at, which I most appreciate about the director, is his ability to stay as historically accurate as possible for the settings of his films. I always find myself utterly fascinated in observing the past cultures he chooses to write about and immerse myself into the world he builds.

Everyone knows the story told in The Northman, because it is the story of Hamlet. But what some people might be surprised to know, including me when I learned of this information, was that the folktale this film is based on is actually what inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

I never had an interest in Vikings, but my curiosity has grown thanks to this film. The film, while yes is an action movie, actually explores quite a bit of Viking lore. Vikings at the time worshipped Norse gods. In the film, you see lots of customs, rituals, and visions regarding Nordic figures. These aspects of the film may turn off some people, but these things are actually what drew me into the movie.

Skarsgard got totally ripped for this role. He is often referred to as a beast and he definitely looks and acts like one here. Anya Taylor-Joy is an actress who I have never seen give a bad performance, she again delivers here. Her character, Olga, is the love interest for Amleth and she does possess some magic. Claes Bang as Fjolnir, the killer uncle, and Nicole Kidman, who plays Amleth’s mother, both really impressed me. There is more to this revenge tale than what meets the eye and these two characters were a big part of that.

It would be remiss not to mention the film’s viciousness and brutality, it does not shy away from any of it. There is plenty of gore to go around. The cinematography is also breathtaking, the locations are jaw-dropping, and the sets feel lived in. The action is very well directed. A sequence of a raid, in particular, stood out as it was filmed in one-take which shows off Eggers’s capabilities.

I have to say though, this is probably my least favorite of Egger’s films so far because it feels like the studio did interfere with Eggers’s vision a bit. I believe that he wanted to delve more into the mythology but the studio didn’t want to do that. The story beats are also familiar and the second half of the film was more compelling than the first half.

Overall, The Northman is an action-packed epic with a well-known story. But this version of a revenge tale does offer something new. As with all of Eggers’s films, it won’t be for everyone. This is not a typical action movie, the film does not shy away from the spiritual aspects of Norse mythology. That didn’t detract from the enjoyment I had though and I would strongly recommend seeing it if gore does not bother you.

I give The Northman a B+

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