Northmen: A Viking Saga (2014)
Summary: During a storm, a Viking vessel sinks and the survivors are stranded on the coast of Scotland. They climb a cliff and are attacked by an army; however they defeat the enemy but one of them escapes. They find a noble woman, Inghean, and the leader of the Vikings Asbjorn decides to keep her to get a ransom to go to the Viking settlement Danelagh. They stumble with the Christian monk Conall that helps them. Meanwhile the escapee reaches his kingdom and the king sends a group of cruel mercenaries under the command of Hjorr and his henchman Bovarr to hunt the Vikings down. But Hjorr and Bovarr actually intend to kill Inghean and when they reach the Vikings, Inghean learns the true intention of Hjorr and feels that her only chance to survive is to team up with Asbjorn and his warriors.
I went into this pretty much expecting the standard Viking movie and that was exactly what I got. The cast has all the same characteristics that every Viking movie does. For starters, there is their leader. Athletic build, slightly larger than most of the others. He's compassionate, yet a pretty fierce warrior. He also comes from a strong lineage of great leaders. Then there is the strong soldier who reluctantly follows orders while at the same time, normally acting like a total dick. When not fighting, he is normally openly questioning the orders that he is given. And lastly, my favorite, the muscle of the group. Now in most cases, this character is the one who towers over every one else. He is extremely powerful and is a great warrior. It is very rare that this character survives to the end of the movie. In most cases, he is killed in one of the final battles and it's normally takes much more to kill him than it does any normal man (for example, in 13th Warrior, Halga was killed after getting pierced by atleast 7 spears). Now this character in Northmen is a bit deceiving. The viking we are introduced that meets the normal physical characteristics of the muscle doesn't last very long. In this case, the muscle is actually one of the oldest vikings and also one of the shortest. While I will not spoil all of the things he went through in this movie, or what his eventual fate is; I will say that in the first 10 minutes of the movie he stands firm as he takes on a soldier on horseback... and wins.
Now the main bad guys are a bit hard to judge. When they are first introduced, they don't appear to be “bad guys.” They come off as mercenaries, which I guess they pretty much are. Bovarr is the brains of the group. Very thoughtful and seems to always be scheming. Hjorr is the psychopath. It was obvious they were going to do battle with the Vikings. I thought it was going to be because they were sent by the king to retrieve his daughter. I wasn't expecting them to have an alternative motive that starts with killing the princess.
The story as a whole wasn't bad at all. While the story of a group of soldiers being caught behind enemy lines isn't bursting with originality, it still had a couple spots where it did take the story into it's own direction. The final battle won't rank in any top 10 list for best fight scenes but it was pretty much what I expected as the story worked itself out. It basically came down to the Viking leader Asbjorn against Hjorr.
I can't really complain about the acting. As a whole, the cast did a pretty good job. The accents were a bit of a draw back for me as none of them really had a strong Nordic accent consistently throughout the movie but I guess that is just me nitpicking. Now there was one actor's performance that really surprised me. Conall, is a Christian monk who has secluded himself because of the guilt he carries with him over an ordeal that lead to the slaughter of a whole tribe. But Conall is not your average Christian Monk. The first time we are introduced to him, he takes out multiple soldiers without breaking a sweat. The man is a complete badass. Conall is played by Ryan Kwanten. Kwanten has a pretty good history of playing badass characters but majority of the ones he plays are also part idiot (Jason Stackhouse in True Blood or Joe in Knights of Badassdom). I didn't think I could picture him in a more serious role but he nailed it.
Would I rush out to buy this movie? Probably not. But I would watch it if it were on. It is a pretty good action movie to watch. Where the overall story may hit some peaks where it slows down, there is enough action to keep one involved. It is worth the watch for anyone who may come across it.
reviewed by Bobby