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`SERAPHIM FALLS' -- THE NITTY, THE GRITTY AND THE BORING.

Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic

Produced by Mel Gibson's company and starring Hollywood's other most determined masochist, Pierce Brosnan, ``Seraphim Falls'' is the kind of hard-bitten Western Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone used to make. Minus the fun elements.

Vaguely biblical from its title to its final, tortured redemption act in the desert, ``Seraphim'' wallows in meandering pain and frontier grit. It's really a simple revenge tale with all the usual elements, presented with a certain primal (hrt)lan and way too much self-importance.

And it's no fun at all, even with Brosnan wincing his way through all manner of fleshly mortification. (It proves that no matter how much he's drawn to this kind of material, Daniel Craig can play it infinitely better.)

When Brosnan's solitary mountain man Gideon is unceremoniously shot, falls down a snowy hillside and nearly drowns in a rushing river, we wonder what kind of villains would do this to him. As it turns out, they're a pack of guns hired by the ruthlessly obsessive Carver (Liam Neeson). It takes a long time to discover what Carver has against Gideon, although the period being a few years after the Civil War, the reason is fairly easy to guess.

Anyway, our sympathy is with Gideon for the longest time, as he struggles just to live (and Brosnan struggles harder to express his agony), then to get the upper hand against his pursuers. As the very gradual chase winds lower and lower down to the prairie, even Gideon has to acknowledge that he's done some bad things, however fierce his survival instinct remains.

But Carver's a complete jerk, too. So there's really no one here to root for. Unless you're an all-forgiving God, which I think could be the film's point.

Co-writer/director David Von Ancken loves his wild landscapes. But he also loves the deceptiveness of the human soul, which manifests not only in the two main characters but in a variety of horse thieves, bank robbers, railroad toughs, religious hypocrites and patent medicine hawkers encountered on the journey.

It should all be quite colorful and moving, but it just isn't. It's hard to find a movie that's as brutal as ``Seraphim Falls'' that's also consistently boring, but somehow that's what's happened here.

God knows why.

Bob Strauss, (818) 713-3670

bob.strauss@dailynews.com

SERAPHIM FALLS - Two and one half stars

(R: violence, language)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Michael Wincott, Anjelica Huston.

Director: David Von Ancken.

Running time: 1 hr. 52 min.

Playing: In selected theaters.

In a nutshell: Masochistic, biblically tinged Western becomes just your average frontier revenge saga, stretched to pretentious lengths.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Liam Neeson's Carver is on an obsessive manhunt for Pierce Brosnan's Gideon (not pictured) in ``Seraphim Falls.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 26, 2007
Words:459
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