- Directed by Marcus Nispel
- April 13, 2007
A young Viking child is left behind after an attack and raised within a Native American tribe.
Pathfinder is a historical action-adventure film starring Karl Urban as the titular pathfinder known as Ghost. The core of the plot revolves around the device of the outcast who really should be accepted by those around them. It’s a well-worn plot idea and director Marcus Nispel uses it to pretty decent effect here. While I was rather disappointed with his take on Conan the Barbarian, I loved what he did here with this film.
Pathfinder is bloody and violent. It mixes fact with fiction and creates a tense and exciting story. A Viking ship has come to raid the area and subjugate or kill the native Skræling (Norse Greenlander term used to describe the natives they encountered) population. In this film there is a little bit of prophecy mixed in along with tinges of mysticism/magic but on the whole the story is reality-based.
The narrative moves along quickly but doesn’t come off as rushed. And while bloody violence does occur it is not violence for the sake of violence. The violence is a means to an end. Ghost uses his brain rather than fighting blindly. While an action-adventure film this isn’t like some like one of the ones from the 80s-which I do love-where the hero simply muscles their way through the forces of the bad guy until everybody is taken out. Ghost has to outthink his enemy.
There’s a subplot in Pathfinder of a semi forbidden romance between Ghost and Starfire (Moon Bloodgood) who is the daughter of the Pathfinder (Russell Means)-an elderly chief of a neighboring tribe. Being that Ghost is an outsider he can’t quite get with her even though the two clearly have feelings for one another. Ghost has yet to achieve the status of ‘warrior’ because of being an outsider and so there is no path to her.
Starfire was no window decoration in this film. As much as she can, her character participates in the story and even helps bring about the resolution to it all. She is not simply the token love interest. But with every love interest there is usually the romantic rival who in this case based on the local culture is better suited for Starfire. Eventually he comes to respect Ghost just before he dies. That little bit there is on the lazy side. Killing off the rival is the lazy way out.
I loved me the costuming here. The Vikings look awesome and bordering on fantasy but this is not a fantasy film. The Native American dress is functional and realistic. They creep right up to stunning costumes in Pathfinder but do not cross that very fine line.
The great Clancy Brown plays the Viking’s leader Gunnar. Brown is always good. One of those actors that makes whatever he is in better. Kinda like bacon. And there is probably no one better to cast as a Viking than Clancy Brown. He has that stature and physique and just amazing talent.
Gunnar is not brutal for the sake of being brutal but rather his brutality is part of his way to get things. He uses violence dare I say intelligently? He terrorizes not to terrorize but terrorizes to get what he wants. He is much like Ghost in that respect.
Pathfinder has an interesting story with some good plotting and direction. This is one of those action movies that doesn’t get too much love but it really should. I suggest you find this one and check it out!