Alexander Skarsgard plays a viking warrior out to avenge the murder of his father the king (Ethan Hawke) in Robert Eggers' uncompromising new epic The Northman.
Skarsgard plays Amleth, who as a boy witnessed his father's murder at the hands of his uncle (Claes Bang). Amleth has to flee for his life, but vows to return one day to kill his uncle and rescue his mother (Nicole Kidman). The film jumps forward many years to when the adult Amleth disguises himself as a slave to gain access to his uncle's household.
The Northman is not a film for the faint of heart. Eggers does not shy away from the brutal, ugly nature of combat in that era. At times, the film can seem like a cavalcade of misery, but life in that era was often spectacularly unpleasant. The story has more depth to it than the simple revenge tale it seems on the surface. The cinematography and score are also strong here.
The film's one flaw is the unrelenting cruelty makes it hard to emotionally connect with the characters. There's a key scene late that is supposed to be heartrending, but it left this viewer cold.