Neo-noir gone wrong, Solace is a laughably poor attempt to recreate the grim, broody worlds of Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs. Alfonso Poyart’s Solace was handled so poorly in all stages of production that it failed to even attract a US distributor, an early warning sign into the state of this once promising idea.
With the iconic Anthony Hopkins leading the credit roll, one could be forgiven for expecting, or even hoping, for better. His strong performance is perhaps the saving grace of an otherwise less-than-mediocre piece of cinema. Hopkins plays John Clancy, a retired police doctor who just so happens to possess psychic abilities. A former colleague of John’s, Joe Merriweather (played adequately by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) successfully urges John out of retirement for the cliched ‘one final job’, ‘for old times’ sake’.
John is tasked with tracking down a serial killer, but the fun doesn’t end there, as in true noir style, we discover that the criminal (later revealed to be Charles Ambrose, played by Colin Farrell) also possesses psychic abilities, and that John has finally met his match. A mundane game of cat and mouse ensues, with Charles always one step ahead. The direction meagrely builds up tension with predictable cuts and angles; the film follows noir tropes to a tee. Eventually we reach the denouement, the confrontation between cat and mouse; good and evil; John and Charles; and we uncover the true motive behind the series of killings: mercy. Thematically the film, to give it some credit, attempts to tackle interesting philosophical issues. This however, is one of the reasons the film was doomed to fail from the start. The film attempts too much, before it even has the basics in place. The great crime thrillers are remembered not only because of exceptional creativity, but because of the way they handled the basics so well.
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