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Valhalla Rising

 (1,553)6.11 h 32 min2010X-Ray18+
A savage one-eyed Viking warrior and a young runaway embark on a dangerous odyssey, in this action packed epic.
Nicholas Winding Refn
Andrew FlanaganMads MikkelsenMaarten Stevenson
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Ewan Stewart
Johnny AndersenHenrik Danstru
IFC Films
Content advisory
Foul languageviolence
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4.3 out of 5 stars

1553 global ratings

  1. 69% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 6% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Frank O’ConnorReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Slow, Dark Norse Saga With Unforgiving Landscapes as the Antagonist
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This review contains a major SPOILER so don't say you weren't warned. A stark, grim, violent take on the Lief Ericson story that follows a mute one eyed psychopath who is kept as a fighting slave in a cage by Highland Scots in the brooding mountains of Scotland. His past is hinted at but never explained. The brutality of medieval life and the harsh beauty of the landscapes are the framework for an oppressive atmosphere that belies the open skies and sprawling grassy mountainsides. The landscape itself is as dangerous as Mads Mikkelson's silent - presumably Norse killer - who seems accustomed to his life.

When he is taken on a sea voyage to a very distant land by his weakening, fracturing captors, he befriends, or rather, tolerates a young boy who showed him if not kindness, then respectful waryness. The movie does not shy away from how inhospitable the environments are. Starving, eaten alive by insects, becalmed one minute and trapped in swamps the next, the new land demonstrates that is not virgin territory and others have reached it before or dwindling party.

This is a movie without a great deal of emphasis on events, but rather the journey in the physical sense and the antagonist is the world and its effect on the group. I already spoiled the twist in the first couple of sentences, but I will leave it as a surprise for people who don't know that story.

It's slow and morose and interrupted by flashes of shocking violence and cruelty, but the story has an oddly satisfying ending and a dark note of mutual respect from cultures who cannot and will not understand anything about each other beyond a mutual understanding of the difficult land and recognition of violence and ability.

It has stuck with me and I think it's Refn's defining work, despite being utterly unlike anything he's done since - with the possible exception of the characterization of the protagonist in Drive.
20 people found this helpful
MatthewReviewed in the United States on December 30, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
Beginning of movie was 3 stars, went downhill from there
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First of all, there isn't much to spoil so I'm just going to lay it all out there. Movie starts off with "One Eye" being tied up and used as I guess some sort of entertainment fighter or something. They never really explain why he's being made to fight people, but he's a slave to some pagans. Then he's sold to some guy, who he kills and escapes from, and takes the boy with him who was nice to him while he was a slave. Then he comes across a tiny group of Christians. They're Nords (ex-vikings who now believe in Christianity) and they're on their way to Jerusalem to help reclaim the Holy Lands in part of one of the Crusades. They convince One Eye to come along with them. At this point, most of the action of the movie has ceased. They get in their boat, come across a great mist that they can't navigate in, and are lost at sea for a long time and almost die of thirst. A small fight breaks out and One Eye kills one of the Nords who tries to sacrifice the boy to make God lift the mist. Pretty dumb. More boring waiting. Eventually the mist lifts, and apparently they find themselves in what appears to be North America. Now, it IS historically accurate that Vikings did land in North America while looking for GREENLAND once upon a time.. but to land there looking for Jerusalem? Honestly that was so stupid, I can't imagine who came up with something like that. Anyway, so they land in North America and cry and sob and whine, dry-hump in the mud (literally) and go a little crazy. Finally, they kill most of themselves off till there's just 3 or 4 of them left, then it's just One Eye and his boy, then there's spooky Native Americans out of nowhere, and they kill One Eye, and that's the end of the movie. The "One Eye" character literally does not speak even one single word throughout this movie, which is kind of lame in my opinion, but to each their own. The boy speaks for One Eye, and even gives him that name, which at first was kinda funny, but got old, especially when the Nords continued to ask the boy for One Eye's opinions, wisdom or advice, and the boy would just make crap up off the top of his head and One Eye never corrected him and everyone took the kid's blind BS guesses at face value, very dumb. Also, historians agree that the Vikings and Nords were experts at living off of the land. It was demonstrated that this Nord group had at least one bow with arrows, but apparently they never killed and ate a single animal after landing in North America and just decided to go a little crazy instead? VERY DUMB. Aside from a lack of women, they could have thrived, or at least survived long enough to stockpile enough food and water and leave again by boat within a week. But they totally did not do that, this movie made no sense and did not acknowledge the fact that medieval men could hunt & gather. Being killed off by the Native Americans made sense once you're willing to make peace with the nonsense that they accidentally wound up in North America in the first place, but they could have gone about that a lot better. No real fighting took place, it was kind of like "ok, please kill me now if you'd like" and they hit him over the head. So dull, and anti-climactic. Not at all in the fighting spirit that was prevalent in the first half of the movie. Also, take a good look at the main characters face and determine if you like staring at it or not, because honestly (and I do mean honestly) roughly 20% of this movie's footage is just the camera pointed at his face from an upward-facing-angle while he looks down at it or away, all "stoic" like and says nothing. For real, 20% of the movie I'd guess is the camera just focused on this guy's face for no particularly great reason. VERY DULL. I really did want to like this movie, and I did like the beginning somewhat, but there was too much that didn't make sense, too much misrepresentation, and too much boredom and little action with no good ending to make up for it.
10 people found this helpful
SelbiniusReviewed in the United States on August 19, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
There's No Film Here
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Valhalla Rising is what happens when a writer or director has a great premise but can only generate about ten minutes of content (and I'm being generous) in 90 minute film. We get lots and lots of lingering shots of faces, of landscape, of clouds, and very little else. Mads creates another unforgettable character? Hardly. He's a complete cypher. And I'm saying this as both a professional actor and author myself. And the rest of the "movie" is just as empty. Why, for example, is a Viking boat able to drift far upriver with no rowing and no sails? Ugh. Just garbage. I want my money back.
3 people found this helpful
RMurray847Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Singular, frustrating, difficult must-see
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This is one crazy movie, and I imagine many viewers will find it too slow, or too graphic, or too obtuse or any combination of the three. Yet, it is also mesmerizing, gorgeous and somehow hypnotic.

The ever gripping (and in this film, completely silent) Mads Mikkelsen plays a Nordic/Viking warrior-type in the early middle ages who is being held as a slave by a group of pagan Vikings. He is used to fight battles to the death, perhaps for money, and his brutally effective and creative in staying alive. His only “friend” is a young boy who is also a slave and seems to be incredibly devoted to Mikkelsen, whom the boy dubs One-Eye, and that’s the only name he has.

Eventually, the two escape and end up on the crew of a Viking boat, manned by converted Christians who are determined to go to the Holy Lands and fight in the crusade. These guys are fanatics: their credo appears to be “convert or die” as they are first encountered at the scene of a slaughter of their own doing.

Things don’t go well, and their journey becomes hopelessly lost and ever more cryptic. The men are consumed by greed or religious fervor, yet tormented by personal demons and driven to the brink of madness by what I can only call the “alien-ess” of the land they’ve encountered. We may have an inkling of where they are, but eventually, they believe they are literally in hell. Imagine thinking you’ve just sailed to hell. You’re maddened by fear, or by desire to leave or for some, the opportunity to claim even this land for God.

Meanwhile, One-Eye soldiers on to his own drum. Sometimes helpful, sometimes a team player and sometimes brutally cutting down his compatriots, he is a deeply inscrutable character.

The movie looks terrific. No doubt director/co-writer Nicholas Winding Refn had a low budget for this singular film. And he takes advantage of it. Landscapes are sometimes sweeping, but for the most part, he stays tight on his people. Lots of closeups and many early moments in particular are filmed on hillsides (so that the mise en scene can be contained more easily). Many scenes at night or dusk or in the fog. It all feels contained, and yet very specific. The idea of being in 11th century Europe is convincingly conveyed.

The music in the film is extremely effective and forward. It’s a fairly modern score, but works well with the portentous goings-on. It’ll give your sub-woofer a spin if you have a good sound system.

And the costumes and makeup are great; everyone looks suitably muddy and unaccustomed to bathing. And in the midst of it all is the wonderful Mikkelsen, who (aided, I’ll admit by some great makeup) is always riveting. His is a performance of complete physicality, and it’s amazing to watch.

But I’ll conclude by circling back to what I said at the beginning. The film is very slow. Despite the fight scenes, there are MANY moments of men walking, sitting or staring. It’s tough. And the fight scenes are quite graphic. I found them very in keeping with the tone of the film, but many will certainly cringe. And the film clearly grapples with many themes: religion, fervor, imperialism, faith and man’s inhumanity to man (to name a few). And it’s tough to say it all ties together. Yes, it seems really full of meaning, but good luck feeling like you’ve understood the film. I think everyone CAN come up with a meaning and underlying theme. But it’s doubtful there is one “right” answer, and you’ll never feel you’ve fully grasped it. If you can live with that, and if you’re up for a challenge, I think VALHALLA RISING is a fantastically creative and original film, unlike anything you’ve seen before.
ppdocReviewed in the United States on August 6, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Mads Mikkelsen creates another unforgettable character
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The more i watch Mads Mikkelsen the more I am convinced that he is a really outstanding actor. He carries this very black movie without ever uttering a word. I have read that he is a "character " actor as if a slight. But I have now seen him in a multitude of roles all varying. From sociopathic Hannibal to One Eye to Le Chiffre.

This is a very surreal movie and having watched it I now understand the disparity of the ratings. I for one found it fascinating. I wont spoil the plot but suffice it to say Obe Eye is a very tortured character.

The movie was engrossing and ended too quickly. The ending was not what I would have scripted, but then this movie isn't typical in any way, shape or form.
19 people found this helpful
Shallow GravesReviewed in the United States on September 29, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Huge fan of the main actor but...
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Film starts out pretty promising and interesting. Then it goes along and then you realize, they made this movie for about $1000. There's long periods of times in 'set' areas, including a boat. Those periods consist of about 8 men at a time who are supposed to be going to fight in the crusades on a ship? 8 guys. The other scenic locations consist with cast members consist of all about 8 to 10 men. Just felt cheap and un realistic. By the end, you can't believe you spent that much time on a film with very little dialogue and some extreme violence. Can't recommend it.
One person found this helpful
Chris Wood-MullerReviewed in the United States on March 21, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
and so surrealistically beautiful as tho our concepts of morality and what is ...
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The fools that give this movie one star have the scope of a slug's earlobe. This movie,in a way, is fantastically subjective and at the same time so spacious...and what sets it off, the catalyst, is the intense brutality...there are few words said in the movie...not that what was said really had any impact. In a way it was maddening..insane, and so surrealistically beautiful as tho our concepts of morality and what is good and proper limits us in experiencing a greater acceptance of reality. Art does just that. ignore the one star people on this one.
24 people found this helpful
Hagen FreihoffReviewed in the United States on October 28, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Deadly boring
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I am very much into artistic movies and feel that many times a subject does not need many words or in depth tracing. This movie was a complete disappointment. Described as one of the toughest and most brutal and disturbing movies of all times in an article last week, I thought that it would be something more intense than the lame material that we had the burden to consume in the past decade or two when it comes to movies. Well, this was nothing of an enjoyment. Boring, slow, silly and, yes, actually rather stupid. I can only imagine that the actors cracked up countless times when they had to film this garbage. I highly recommend that you ignore this title, safe the money and most importantly use your time better than watching this. Try to watch your grass grow, or paint dry and you might enjoy it more...
2 people found this helpful
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