Film review of Solace, the crime thriller that pits two psychics against one another: a serial killer who is many steps ahead of the police, and a retired doctor who is enlisted to catch him.
After a series of murders in which the killer leaves minimal evidence, FBI agent Joe Merriweather (Morgan) coaxes psychic John Clancy (Hopkins) out of retirement to help solve the case. Along with Merriweather’s partner, Agent Katherine Cowles (Cornish), the trio begin their pursuit in catching the serial killer. But as Clancy continues to get more involved, he begins to realise that he has a lot in common with the more advanced psychic murderer (Farrell.)
The history of Solace coming to a big screen has been a long one. Initially, it was apparently set up to be the sequel to Se7en (1995). A sequel that clearly nobody thought was necessary or wanted, as the project was discarded, and rightly so. The script was left hidden for over a decade until recently when it was rewritten with fresh, new ideas, and a still impressive cast and thus Solace was born.
A FBI agent, a psychologist detective and a psychic doctor walk in to a crime scene. No, this isn’t a set up to a joke, but rather the clever premise to this film. A clever premise that sadly is not executed as well as it could have been. Yet, this is by no means a terrible film. There are still a lot of challenging and interesting moments in this film that will engage you in its story.
Despite not being a direct sequel, there still remains connections between Solace and Se7en. The neo-noir tone is strong with its morally ambiguous message. The big reveal is that Farrell targets those who are or will be deathly sick and “mercy kills” them. That is what the film challenges you to think about; is it okay to kill someone if it’s out of mercy? If you looked in to a loved one’s future and saw that they end up suffering in pain for a great deal of time, would you put them out of their misery even before their pain begins?
I’m a big fan of these type of stories, in the same manner of the TV series of Dexter (2006), it questions you about whether murder can ever be seen positively. It’s the chemistry between Farrell’s character who believes this and Hopkins’ character who believes that every moment of life (even when in pain and sick) is precious that are the strongest in the film, and makes up for the relatively slow and standard first act.
Hopkins and Farrell play off one another beautifully. From the moment Farrell comes on screen, approximately half way through, the film ups its game. When the two finally meet, the tension truly begins. It’s their ability to know all possible outcomes between their meetings but not knowing what outcome they are going to choose that creates a fascinating cat and mouse game. This then builds to its gripping climax on the subway, in which we find out just how alike the two are.
In spite of all its merits, the film does have its poor moments. Firstly, if you can’t just accept the not explained psychic abilities, then the entire film does seem a tad silly and far fetched. Furthermore, Solace is filled with many crime scene cliches, in fact the first act could have been an episode straight out of one of the many crime TV shows we are now offered. The main problem however is that it tries to be something unique, but since it takes inspiration from other films, it stops it from being something transcendent.
Clancy’s apparent stoic and courteous persona can easily be compared to Hopkins’ portrayal as the iconic Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (1991.) Furthermore, Cowles’ opinion of Clancy; one that is full of intrigue and anxiousness is similar to Clarice’s thoughts towards Lecter. And like I mentioned earlier, there are undoubtedly connections between Solace and Se7en. In conclusion, Solace is unlikely to receive the same amount of acclaim as the films it takes inspiration from, but if you’re a fan of the neo-noir detective stories, then you will definitely find something enjoyable from this.
Cast and Credits
Director: Afonso Poyart. Eden Rock Media, Flynn Picture Company, New Line Cinema, et al.
Producer: Thomas Augsberger, Claudia Bluemhuber, Matthias Emcke, et al.
Writer: Sean Bailey, Ted Griffin.
Camera: Brendan Galvin.
Sets: Brad Ricker.
Antony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Colin Farrell, Abbie Cornish.