Directed by: Afonso Poyart
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish
Release Date: 25/09/15
Retired police doctor and psychic John Clancy is pulled back into the field to help catch a serial killer.
Originally intended to be a sequel to 1995 film Se7en, Solace is a typical FBI-hunts-serial killer with a psychic twist plot. Haruki Murakami fans, such as myself, will be surprised to learn that the killers method of choice is a sharp implement directly into the base of the neck. For a moment I confused my fictions and thought Aomame from 1Q84 was the murderer. It turns out she is not in this case.
John Clancy is reluctantly enlisted by his old FBI friend to help solve a baffling case, this aspect felt rather like the incredible 2002 film Red Dragon though thankfully the similarities are not too heavy. It takes a good while to get to the real meat of the plot and unfortunately does not give Colin Farrell much of a chance to unfold his devillish wings as Charles Ambrose which is a shame as what little screen time he does have is very well executed. The cat and mouse game is at times quite exciting, building anticipation of how things may play out however as this comes so late in the game it ends up being a little bit disappointing.
Solace is very well shot and has some interesting scene ideas and camera angles which make for engaging viewing. There are some nicely subtle hints along the way though at times it is predictable viewing, ironic given the psychic aspect of the film. There are a lot of minor story threads for each character that create realism, however the main story ends up feeling rushed and unsatisfying at how quickly it plays out. Anthony Hopkins is quite Hannibal-like in the quiet way he portrays Clancy and some of the inflections and tones used continue the comparison. Jeffery Dean Morgan, a personal favourite of mine, puts in a solid and quite heartbreaking performance as FBI agent Joe though I feel the writing of his character let him down slightly. FBI agent Katherine, played with heart by Abbie Cornish, is a surprisingly interesting character who is not sexed up for the role which is refreshing to see for a female character. Katherine is able to hold her own, display intelligence, and not be the romantic interest.
There is intelligence, and wit within the story however for a psychological thriller such as this, that needs to be a thread throughout the whole movie, not just the last quarter. The other storylines should weave around the main plot creating interest and reality. Solace is halfway there with that but it just doesn’t quite get it right. Some aspects of the plot are right on point and build drama and intrigue but the writing doesn’t quite keep up with it enough to make for the exceptional viewing this could be. There is so much potential here and while it is a highly watchable, enjoyable film it doesn’t quite pack the punch it should.