Is 'The Northman' Movie Worthy Of Your Peacock Premium Sub?

The Northman Nicole Kidman Queen Gudrún Alexander Skarsgård Amleth Anya Taylor-Joy Olga Focus Features Universal Pictures
Focus Features / Universal Pictures

If you follow film, it has been impossible not to hear the buzz surrounding Roger Eggers’ epic Viking drama “The Northman.” For those waiting for the chance to watch it at home, it is with tremendous anticipation that the movie arrives on Peacock Premium. Violent and unstoppable in its grim execution, “The Northman” is a far cry from the bubbly happiness Peacock Premium gifted subscribers with “Marry Me.”

The Jennifer Lopez starrer is gone now, and “The Northman” takes its spot with unrelenting genre juxtaposition. Unfortunately, the trailer gives a lot away, and if you know rudimentary Shakespeare, you can likely surmise the plot. Regardless, many will find that the ensemble led by Alexander Skarsgaard and Nicole Kidman provides plenty of reasons to see Roger Eggers’ take on it.

What It Is About

“The Northman,” tells a brutal, stylized, and brooding story surrounding revenge. Speaking of which, let’s get into what the evocative flick has to conjure plot-wise. It all begins by welcoming home a wounded king (Ethan Hawke). His son, Amleth, celebrates his homecoming with adoration. His enemies have other plans. 

The reunion takes a turn for father and son when they are returning home. The assassination and coup against Amleth’s father almost succeeds in claiming young Amleth’s life as well. Amleth is able to make a narrow escape and bitterly declares his revenge as he rows out to sea. “The Northman” subsequently follows his journey, which takes him to unexpected places amid the lingering threat of a volcano.

Yes, A Volcano

It all reads like an epic poem, and it seems to know it too. In one of the movie’s early sequences, Amleth wins no favors as a warrior in a vicious onslaught against a Slavic village. It is an emotionally punishing and visually disturbing sequence so common in the genre, and it spares none of its horror.

Amleth does not participate in the worst aspects of the battle. He sits by witnessing the savagery around him without lifting a finger to stop the evil that pervades the village. Amleth is fueled by rage and revenge, and the village had no part in creating either. “The Northman” has an impossible time getting you to root for its namesake from this point forward.

Another Vantage Point

What it has to say is, for the most part, standard procedure until it provides another vantage point from which to stand and speak. Is there a time when revenge/justice is actually a form of self-defense? It is this intriguing and rarely addressed question that it subtly lays on the audience.

As a fan of the revenge genre, it tends to exist within certain parameters. There is an unspoken guidebook that few dare to overstep. For every thought-provoking revenge film of dazzling perfection (“The Duelist”), there is another that strides a fine line. In the case of “The Northman,” it investigates the reliability of narrators, the responsibility to look inward for culpability, and if some heroes are villains in self-delusional disguise.

You Will Not Be Bored To Tears

In a stunning surprise, “The Northman” never flirts with boredom. It grabs you from the start and does not let you go until the bitter end. There is a lot of ambition to the piece, which includes action, adventure, family politics, and a romance that goes slightly less realized. The relationship between Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy proves far more central to the story than one could imagine. 

However, their uneasy bond does not translate into the love story it has to be to sell the third act. It could be a chemistry issue or other factors. On a positive note, the incredibly crafted film re-teams “Big Little Lies” co-stars -- Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård. In “The Northman,” their characters are mother and son versus the married couple they played in the HBO hit.

Trivial Pursuit. No Trivial Performances.

If you want more trivia, look no further than Alexander Skarsgård’s older brother, Gustaf Skarsgård, playing Floki on the now-concluded “Vikings.” You can stream the latter on Peacock after imbibing in “The Northman.” Interestingly, the brothers’ respective movie and the TV series are complimenting counterparts for one another. 

Speaking of the brothers, Alexander Skarsgård impresses as Amleth, disappearing for the most part. Nicole Kidman, meanwhile, gives an unwavering performance as Amleth’s mother, fueled by equal parts passion and rage. Her monologue is the showstopper that drives every point home that “The Northman” aims to make.

Final Thoughts

While it is not a perfect film, it is quite stirring, well-paced, and evenly told throughout its various chapters. Sometimes a story can feel lopsided or top-heavy. “The Northman” actually saves the best for last. Oh, and The Mountain from “Game of Thrones” is in it. What more could you ask for?

“The Northman” is currently streaming on Peacock via the top-tier Premium subscription. You will not want to miss your chance to watch it. There is a lot to this brooding drama, and it is rivetingly brought to life with tremendous interpretation. Hence, proving that if Nicole Kidman signed on to star, there is usually a good reason for it.