Thursday, December 14, 2017

Solace

2/4

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, Colin Farrell

Rated R for Violence and Bloody Images Throughout, Sexuality, Nudity and Language

When it comes to "Solace," I'll give credit where credit is due: it seeks to be more than just your average run-of-the-mill serial killer movie.  It has a few ideas that put it above the pack.  The problem is that it uses an underwritten screenplay, flat performances and directorial flourishes that give new meaning to the term "self-indulgent" to explore them.

FBI agent Joe Merriwether (Morgan) and his partner Katherine Cowles (Cornish) are on the trail of a brutal serial killer.  With no evidence and no leads, Joe is forced to enlist the help of his old friend, John Clancy (Hopkins), a psychic.  Unlike Theresa Capruto or any other snake oil peddler, John doesn't just practice cold reading: he really is psychic.  The three of them must team up to stop the killer.

Taking the use of psychic abilities in a police procedural is a neat idea, but there's a catch.  In order for it to work, there has to be a set of rules of what the psychic can or can't do.  Otherwise, the psychic can do his trick and immediately solve everything.  In other words, it will make up everything as it goes along.  Putting obstacles in his path, as "Solace" does, is like evading the question while still keeping the ability to use it as a crutch.  This results in a distinct lack of tension in the film.  To be fair, this movie was never going to be the second coming of "Seven," even though it was written as a sequel to that classic.  But a decent yarn wouldn't have been out of the question.

Another strike against it is the quality of the performances.  Or more specifically, the lack thereof.  The four actors with any significant screen time have considerable talent, but you wouldn't know it from this movie.  Anthony Hopkins is phoning it in; it's obvious that he's there simply to replenish his bank account.  That said, his charisma keeps things from getting dull.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan is flat to the point where he blends in with the beige wallpaper.  Only during his last scene do we gain any measure of sympathy for Joe.  Abbie Cornish is miscast; the Aussie beauty is usually such a delight to watch, but she is clearly not cut out for the role of a tough-as-nails cop.  The only bright spot is Colin Farrell as the killer, but he's only on screen for the final 20 minutes.  He's consistently on his game and captures the complexities of his character.

Director Afonso Poyart approaches this material as a mixture of David Fincher and Tarsem.  Unfortunately, he has neither of their talents.  Or restraint.  To get us inside John's head, he uses a lot of surreal (and bloody) images and visual gimmicks.  But there's rarely a reason for doing so, and it quickly becomes annoying rather than interesting.  Had he used them less and with more purpose, it might have worked better.

"Solace" isn't a bad movie.  I did not get irritated at the people who made it and mad at myself for wasting a couple bucks buying it on Blu Ray.  But I don't reccomend it.