I feel like I first heard about Solace years ago, and that’s because it has been sitting on the shelf for quite a while (to the best of my understanding, the film still hasn’t been released in America). It is an addition to the ever-growing slew of serial killer dramas, but adding in a twist that hasn’t been seen before – as well as a psychic detective, we also have a psychic bad guy. Solace has been heralded by some as a spiritual successor to Se7en (and was originally planned as a sequel to that film), but it is nowhere near as good – it boasts an interesting premise, but its plot is a bit limp and some of its performances so-so.
John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins) is a psychic doctor who has been living a quiet life of solitude after the death of his daughter two years prior. One day, he is visited by Joe (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), an old friend and FBI special agent who requests Clancy’s help in solving several murders committed by a serial killer. Joe, Clancy and Agent Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) pursue the killer, Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell), who always seems to be one step ahead of them, and eventually the truth dawns on Clancy – Ambrose is also a psychic, and his gifts are far more advanced than his own.
If you strip away the supernatural element of Solace, it is a fairly run of the mill serial killer chase movie – the psychic abilities do add some incredibly striking scenes, realised on screen in some very visually impressive ways. It relies a bit too much on rapid montages of various things that are relevant, which come together in a final sequence that feels like it should be more climatic than it is (and which really fails to justify their conclusion).
Really, as the film runs on, the intrigue of the psychic aspects fades considerably, and a final confrontation destroys the lustre completely. It feels as though the movie thinks that it is smarter than it is, especially in how it tackles a big theme in a manner that seems deep but really has no thought applied to it whatsoever (the theme I’m discussing is Ambrose’s motive for killing, hence why I’m not revealing it).
Speaking of Ambrose, Farrell’s performance here is a weird one. The trailers suggested that the movie was based around a battle between Hopkins and Farrell’s psychics, but that is far from the case – Farrell doesn’t appear until at least an hour into the film, and he doesn’t really have the time to make any lasting impression besides outlining his motivation.
Despite having a lot more time on-screen, Hopkins doesn’t fare much better – he really phones it in here, remaining stolid and haunted-looking throughout the picture. Morgan and Cornish are able but they don’t have much to work with, and Cornish’s foisting onto Clancy as a sidekick of sorts doesn’t quite gel the way it should. The issue here is more with the script, which is riddled with cliché and lets the film down.
Solace is daft (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that) and it strives to be dark and brooding, but the direction and the script do it no favours at all. The film boasts an interesting idea and it makes a fun watch (and an often visually striking one), but it is by no means a particularly good movie – Solace could have done with a lot more work behind the camera to help realise the gem of a film that can occasionally be glimpsed here.
Director: Afonso Poyart
Cast: Anthony Hopkins (John Clancy), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Agent Joe Merriwether), Abbie Cornish (Agent Katherine Cowles), Colin Farrell (Charles Ambrose), Matt Gerald (Agent Sloman), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Agent Swayer)
Running Time: 101 Mins
Image credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/solace/review/