Movie Review: Hammer of the Gods (2013)
It is the 8th Century C.E. and the Viking invaders are struggling with the Saxons in middle England. King Bagsecg was given a slow but fatal wound in the last battle, so it’s time for him to choose a successor. Prince Steinar is a good warrior, but has turned his back on religion of all kinds, including the Norse gods, since the loss of his mother. Prince Harald is (comparatively speaking) a fop, and the youngest son Vali is kind of a wimp. No, King Bagsecg decides it’s time to call back his oldest son, the long-exiled Hakan. So he sends Steinar to fetch Hakan.
Steinar and a small band of warriors set out on this quest, though all signs are against the successful completion of this mission. Each step of the journey brings them further into darkness and treachery.
This is a higher-budget film than the last one I reviewed, and a much slicker production. This is not always a plus–Steinar and his main warrior companions are introduced with metallic “boss titles” which is a touch over the top.
The Vikings, protagonists though they may be, tend towards the ruthless end of the scale, as evidenced by an early scene where a “rescue the captive woman” scene goes seriously off-script. Steinar’s struggle with his lack of faith amid the warring religions of the age are a large theme. He no longer believes, but holds on to a charm of his mother’s. (The film never comes down on one side or the other–everything in it could be explained naturally, but there are some odd coincidences.)
The movie is rated “R” in the US for bloody violence, lots of (non-period) foul language and female toplessness. Trigger warnings: talk of rape, implied incest.
The main female characters seem to have been cast for the pretty rather than acting skills; most of the other actors manage fair to good.
There are strong resemblances to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; the ending is rather different.
I would only recommend this to fans of violent movies with fairly strong stomachs. I got it as a free rental from Redbox so got my money’s worth.