though the Marvel Comics villain Destiny had precognitive powers, the X-Men
still usually defeated her and the Brotherhood of [Evil] Mutants, although
often under rather pyrrhic terms. Sometimes knowing the future just isn’t
enough. Retired police doctor John Clancy has limited powers of prescience, yet
he was still unable to prevent his daughter’s death from leukemia. He is still
handy to have around during an investigation. Unfortunately, the serial killer he
will investigate has the same powers, except they are even stronger in Afonso
Poyart’s long-awaited Solace (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Agent Joe Merriweather is so frustrated in his hunt for an elusive serial
killer, he tries to lure his former colleague Clancy back as a consultant.
Frankly, it is sort of impressive Merriweather even picked up on the clues
linking the cases. Naturally, Clancy is reluctant but something about the cases
stimulates his Spidey sense. As to be expected, he initially clashes with
Merriweather’s headshrinker partner, Agent Katherine Cowles, but she warms to
him when she realizes he is the real deal. He also takes a liking to her, which
makes his visions of her potential murder rather upsetting.
turns out, all the victims had fatal diseases that were mostly undiagnosed, but
on the verge of taking a horribly painful turn. Before long, Dr. Clancy
realizes they are hunting someone much like himself, but more powerful, engaged
in a spree of “mercy” killings. Things get really complicated when the
adversaries start using their powers to get the drop on each other.
good news is Solace is way better
than you might have heard—truly legitimately so and not just as a function of
low expectations. Reportedly, Solace was
originally developed as a sequel to Se7en,
but it is hard to see that lineage in the final film, aside from both having
serial killer plots in common. Frankly, that is just as well. Solace is much more life-affirming film
and often surprisingly clever. Arguably, it is miraculously cohesive considering
how many screenwriters had a hand in its screenplay, including some pretty
prestigious but uncredited scribes.
course, the commercial potential of a serial killer movie starring Sir Anthony
Hopkins is self-evident. Although worlds removed from Hannibal Lecter (who
nonetheless haunts the film like a ghost in the attic), Hopkins is terrific as
the world-weary Clancy. He makes the woo-woo believable and gives a rousing third
act defense of life should raise the hair on the back of everyone’s neck and
ought to earn the film a robust following with pro-life, anti-euthanasia
again, Jeffrey Dean Morgan proves he is one of the most under-rated actors working
today, despite his high-profile work in Walking
Dead, Watchmen, and dozens of
other shows and films. As Merriweather, he gives the film a human grounding and
develops a genuine sense of camaraderie with Hopkins. Colin Farrell takes his
time showing up, but he makes the most of it when he does, creeping the scene
up and chewing the scenery as the psychic killer, Charles Ambrose. He and
Hopkins have some electric scenes together, sizing each other up and trying to
out-brain each other. Australian rapper Abbie Cornish basically tries to get by
on distant reserve as Cowles and she mostly gets away with it, because all eyes
are really on Hopkins and Farrell.
Poyart really has a fitting sensibility for Solace, which is stylistically similar
to his breakout Brazilian calling card 2 Rabbits, except this film features dizzying visions of possible futures,
whereas his previous film was dominated by super-kinetic context-supplying
rewinds. It all comes together, thanks in large measure to Sir Anthony.
Recommended without reservation for fans of serial killer thrillers, Solace opens this Friday (12/16) in New
York, at the Cinema Village (but screening times are limited).
Labels: Afonso Poyart, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Serial killer movies, Sir Anthony Hopkins