The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

For the first two-thirds of the film, I enjoyed it well enough in that way I (mildly) enjoyed “The Witch,” as a triumph of fastidious art design and shot selection. And the revenge angle gives it some of the same pleasure as “Apocalypto,” where the revenge film structure is a clothesline on which to hang an exploration of a particular place and time.

Basically, it was solid.

And then a character turn happened with about 30 minutes to go, and the film snapped into a gear I didn’t expect, becoming a takedown of the film it was presenting as, rendering fate not as anything noble or even justifiable, but as a self-made prison. The dark joke of the thrillingly heavy metal finale is that it’s all so stupid and unnecessary.

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