By default the self destructive nature of man and his timeless knack of turning on his brothers in moments of adversity was addressed as well. It always makes for a compelling theme to digest onscreen (not so much in the news though...)! As I've mentioned in past reviews; I was raised Catholic and theology fascinates me to this day, specially when having to do with its place within our society then and now... so yeah... this one had my wheels spinning. The acting power backing up the cerebral shenanigans resulted in the anvil dropping even harder. Mr. Smith whipped out the big guns for this one! Eddie Redmayne (who reminded me of young James Caviezel) gave a poignant performance as the young Monk and his character arc had me by the jewels. The lovely Carice van Houten (of Paul Verhoeven's Black Book fame) was mesmerizing as the mysterious “woman” that kept me guessing... all I'll say about her role. As for Sean Bean; he shared an electrifying chemistry with his male cohorts (the talented John Lynch, Andy Nyman, Johnny Harris and cie) and he once again possessed the scenery with his grounded yet commanding display. Talk about presence! All that dude has to do is stand there and you can't take your eyes off him. And thankfully here; he did wayyyyy more than that, so you do the math. I got BEANED! Seriously though Sean Bean needs more roles like this in more films like this.
A little aside if I may; now that I think of it; I
adored the core group at play here: the
mercenaries and their leader the Knight. The man's man aura they had, the
brotherhood they shared and their sense of honor and values did it for me. Even
though these were flawed human beings; I got attached to them; because they had
heart and respect for each other. The earnest characterizations and the stellar
performances behind them owned me hardcore. It needed to be said! Props! Add to all that quality; solid visual effects by Chris Kunzmann (the
grisly consequences of the plague and the battles looked mucho credible); an evocative score by
Christian Henson (who also did the music for Smith's Severance and Triangle) that really brought it all home with gusto and a last act that
was charged by a slew of gripping twists and turns and you get a stand-out
horror opus; one that stimulated my grey manner and mashed my gut into putty.
Any negatives to slam down? Yes but not really. The slow motion looked all kinds of wrong; something was off with it and it didn't give the "moments" the intended effect. But that's nitpicking. And was I alone in yearning to see Sean Bean crush more skulls? For some reason I kept waiting for him to open up a huge can of whoopass with his sword and he randomly did, just not enough for my liking. Again, minor. My main beef with the picture though, was that at the end of it all, I yearned for further closure. As the ends credits rolled I was like "Come on man, give more than that, I need concrete answers!" No dice; the flick told me to step off and get a life. The tricky thing was; the ambiguous nature of it all was also one of the film's main strengths... its point to some degree... so go figure. All in all, BLACK DEATH hit the spot! It was THE WICKER MAN for this new generation if ya ask me! I was hooked, lined and pummeled throughout. THANK YOU to all involved.