A pit-fighting slave wins his freedom by mangling his masters, falling in with a gang of optimistic Christian Vikings who, despite their lack of numbers, plan to sack the Holy Land. Valhalla Rising focuses on the idea of first-hand experience, viewers are presented with a string of events contextualised within the intellectual and physical limits of its Viking heroes. The meat of the second act revolves around an endless, drifting voyage to the New World in which the men have nothing to do but starve and pick at each other. Unable to rationalise their unending journey, the men fall prey to various forms of superstition.
Initially they pray to their Christian God for more favourable weather. When that falls on deaf ears, their attention focuses on Mads Mikkelsen's One-Eye, the shit hole gladiator they drafted for their crusade. One-Eye is a dour, supernaturally violent individual who seems to speak through a cherubic familiar. The men become convinced he is dragging them down to hell, a thought not entirely discouraged by the vast green inferno they wash up at. Overwhelmed by their new dominion, the Viking conquest flounders to indecision and in-fighting. Their faith powerless and small in the face of a vast, indifferent continent. The experience is just too much for them. The insignificance of their ambition laid before them, all they can do is wait to die.