The Promised Land Movie Review

The Promised Land movie poster

The best part about a Danish drama that pits two men against each other for supremacy is that you get to have a villain by the name of De Schinkel, because I can’t possibly think of a better villain name than De Schinkel. The second best part: The Promised Land, which stars Mads Mikkelsen, is also a gripping and well made thriller.

Mikkelsen plays war hero Captain Ludvig Kahlen, who, in 18th century Denmark, is assigned by the King to harvest an uninhabitable stretch of land. Diligent, methodical, and with a true sense of purpose, Kahlen knows what he has to do–until he meets the ruthless nobleman Frederik De Schinkel, who will stop at nothing to destroy Kahlen’s ambitions.

Written and directed by Nikolaj Arcel, who wrote the screenplay for the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and directed the excellent A Royal Affair (he also made the tepid The Dark Tower, but nevermind that), The Promised Land is a gorgeous yet bleak production featuring rich characters, bursts of violence, and a highly entertaining story. 

Mikkelsen is of course great as always, gifting the film with a severe gravitas while drawing the audience into his character’s emotional arc. He’s surrounded by a terrific supporting cast that includes Amanda Collin (“Raised by Wolves”) and young Melina Hagberg. Of course, it’s Simon Bennebjerg who steals the show as the sadistic De Schinkel.

While Arcel doesn’t fully stick the landing–the third act ebbs and flows in unexpected ways, but occasionally in ways that aren’t quite as effective as they could have been–when all is said and done, The Promised Land is an enthralling little drama that defies expectations. Its story, essentially one of subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) violence and revenge, may not be the kind that captures the attention of Oscar voters, but it’s much more accessible than many of the more artsy foreign films out there. 

With strong performances, a compelling story, and a wicked villain, The Promised Land is a top-grade drama-thriller that deserves to be seen. And the best part: the bad guy named De Schinkel.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

Originally Published Here.

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