Review: Solomon Kane
PLOT: A once-brutal warrior who has renounced his violent ways finds himself on a quest to save a young woman from a vicious and demonic army.
REVIEW: SOLOMON KANE is a lot more enjoyable than it has any right to be. As straight-faced and noble as its title character, the movie could have played things tongue-in-cheek ala THE MUMMY, which would have been disastrous, but it's determined to be taken seriously, which infuses it with a kind of likable charm even if it never reaches any great heights or transcends the limitations of its genre.
We meet Solomon Kane when he's a real brute. A captain for the British army in 16th century Africa, Kane and his men easily cut down their enemies, and do so with relish. During a raid on a castle, Kane comes up against an opposition of a different kind: The Devil's Reaper, who is there to claim Kane's soul. Shockingly, Kane escapes, with a newfound determination to do something good with his life.
Years later, we find Kane shacked up with a group of monks, having completely renounced violence. He's forced to leave, however, and embarks on a mission to reunite with his father and claim his family fortune. (He and his pop had a falling out decades ago, so it's a task easier said than done.) Along the way he encounters the kindness of the Crowthorn family, led by wise William (Pete Postlethwaite), who allow him to travel with them and share in their food and good graces. In turn, he acts as something of a bodyguard for them, and a member of the family he quickly becomes.
Unfortunately and predictably, this happiness can't last very long. The Crowthorns and Kane are besieged by a savage horde that has been pillaging the land in the service of some dark ruler. Trying to honor his own pledge to be violence-free, Kane watches as most of the family is done for. The daughter, Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood), is taken as a powerless Kane is left for dead. Naturally, this cannot stand, and Kane must pull himself up by the bootstraps and hunt the barbarians, save the girl, and risk having his soul damned forever.
SOLOMON has cheesy effects and cheesier dialogue; it seems a bit of a relic in how overwrought and melodramatic it often gets (it's often like a cross between a 50s biblical epic and a medieval fantasy from the 80s in the CONAN THE BARBARIAN mold). I'd even go so far as to say it gets unintentionally funny in several scenes, so sincere it remains throughout, but it's filled with enough blood, guts and swordplay to entertain.
Bassett stages a handful of effectively creepy sequences, like one where Solomon happens upon the rubble of a church overseen by a deranged priest (Mackenzie Crook, Gareth from the original Office) and a vampiric congregation, and he generally controls the action well. The climax admittedly gets a little ridiculous (cue the fire-demon from hell!) but its bombastic and amusing and doesn't stray from its humorless, businesslike approach.
Businesslike is also a good way to describe Purefoy. Stone-faced and morose, he's a leading man with a little charisma and an ample helping of gruffness. Not necessarily possessing the star-power of a major leading man, Purefoy seems made to headline a B-movie like this one. Bassett surrounds him with a reliable supporting cast that includes Max Von Sydow, Alice Krige, Jason Flemyng and Postlethwaite, who all add necessary flavor to the dark flick.
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|Extra Tidbit:||SOLOMON KANE opens on September 28th.|