The Crow: Salvation
The Crow: Salvation 2000
I’ve had my share of ups and downs with the Crow series, the first one is one of my all time favorite films and I never bothered with any of the sequels until starting this site. Not only that, but it’s taken four years before I finally got to the final entry in the franchise. Well final for me since it’s technically the third one released, it’s not like they’re interconnected at all, and there’s the ever present possibility of another film in the near future even if it’s been in development hell for years now. But back to the film itself, it was a bit of a pleasant surprise. For what it’s worth, this is definitely the second best film in the Crow franchise, unfortunately there’s still a pretty wide gap between this film and the first one.
It’s difficult to look at this film without comparing it to the other films in the franchise. City of Angels was essentially a carbon copy of the original that paled in every possible way, and Wicked Prayer was just completely batshit insane. Salvation has a lot of things going for it from the start. First off, it was a bigger departure from the core concept without straying too far away from it. There’s a bit more of an air of mystery and this Crow, Alex Corvis was framed for murder and is not only returning for revenge, but also to clear his own name. It does loosely follow the same format where Corvis comes back, has a group of four bad guys to get revenge on before learning of the fifth and final bad guy who was really in charge of the whole thing, it also has the added twist that they are all crooked cops.
What is most disappointing about this film is that there are so many good elements when you stop and look at them individually, but when they’re all put together it just doesn’t end up with a good film. Eric Mabius as Alex Corvis was a good choice for the role, he doesn’t quite have the charm that Brandon Lee had, but he’s not too far off. There are some good lines here and there that just don’t quite get delivered in the same way that makes a good action hero. There’s also the slight change in make up style where the crow lines come from the remains of his electric chair scarred and burned face. In theory, this was supposed to be the reason why nobody recognizes him immediately but it was a little bit too subtle where it becomes increasingly odd that not a single person recognizes him until it’s completely spelled out to them.
Aside from the lead role, everyone else also tends to just fade out to nothingness. There are four crooked cops that were involved in the real killing of Corvis’s girlfriend, and yet none of their names or personalities are memorable at all. They’re all essentially interchangeable and none of them get enough screen time to make much of an impression at all. On top of that, we also have Fred Ward playing the top dog Police Captain who not only has this secret side where he is interested in the occult and just so happens to know about the legend of the Crow and how to stop him, but also has a female sidekick reminiscent to Top Dollar’s Bai Ling or David Boreanaz’s Tara Reid. But like the four crooked cops, he doesn’t really add anything to the movie and just plays it like a standard villain.
The direction is really the biggest disappointment to this film, there are several moments that look visually stunning and yet it’s bogged down with a mediocre overall composition. One of the worst examples are the moments of sense memory that Corvis gets when he touches something that his girlfriend had also touched so that he gets a flash of what she saw. These moments are cued up with a very sharp and grating sound while Mabius goes into an awkward convulsion to see the memory in a deep red tint. There’s also moments where we’re supposed to be seeing through the Crow’s eyes that end up looking like a late 90’s screensaver where there’s a bulge moving across the cityscape. There were also some moments of potential during the sex club scenes where everything’s bathed in a blue light and there are plenty of cameras and early internet era computers set up and yet those also felt very underutilized. During many moments of the film it reminded me of a pale imitation of David Fincher’s Seven. From the opening credits sequence where we see images of the crow in some dingy medical space with blood seeping out of it, to much of the set design where everything has a run down and washed out look to it, but it always feels like just a pale imitation of a movie that came five years before this one.
Finally, the writing is one of the high points in the film. It is set up to be much more of a mystery than the other Crow films as Corvis is going through the cops to find the mystery man with the scar on his arm that everyone claims doesn’t really exist. We get to see it a couple different times, first during the flashbacks where it’s seen planting the murder knife in Corvis’s truck, and then again during his execution where he pulls up his sleeve so that Corvis can clearly see it, yet somehow neither he nor the audience gets to see who the arm belongs to. There’s also a great role from Grant Shaud who I know best during his time on Murphy Brown, here he plays Corvis’s lawyer and is more or less a similar role to Ernie Hudson’s Albrecht, though with a much less favorable ending. It really is the most disappointing because almost all of the elements were there, and if they were put into more capable hands this could have turned into a decent film. But it felt like it wasn’t in capable hands and ended up falling flat. There are moments of greatness here and there, but when all is said and done, we’re left with a fairly mediocre Crow film. The villains needed more personality, the sound design and soundtrack was lacking, and the visuals lacked consistency. It wasn’t awful by any means, but it’s almost worse because I can almost see how good this film could have been. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.