Solace (Movie Review)

Solace (Movie Review)
5 10

PLOT: A psychic serial killer thinks he's doing the world a service by killing terminally incurable patients. An FBI vet and his newcomer partner enlist the help of another psychic to help find and quash the serial killer for good.

REVIEW: If sophomore slumps indeed exist, one might effortlessly cite such in Brazilian director Afonso Poyart's (TWO RABBITS) English language debut SOLACE, a promisingly-premised and aptly-acted serial killer thriller that piques genuine engagement for roughly 45 minutes, only to fade and fizzle through its slapdash editing style, shrill and overbearing visual design and, perhaps most damning, it's dissatisfyingly nonsensical conclusion. Clairvoyance is always a tricky subject matter to effectively realize onscreen, and despite a good concept and a few well crafted sequences of preponderant gore, Poyart's multilingual attempt from a script he did not write himself suffers mightily as an inconsequential, lost-in-translation muddle. Had it been chopped in half and passed off as a tightened TV episode, plaudits would surely abound. As it is, neither the prospect of originating as an unofficial SE7EN sequel, nor the majesty of Sir Anthony Hopkins could lend us any sort of cinematic SOLACE!

A serial murderer is toying with the police in Atlanta, Georgia. A skein of corpses have all been dispatched in similar fashion: a thin metal pipette gouged deep into the back of their necks. FBI agent Joe Merriweather (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his young new partner Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) have been assigned to the case, yet can't quite piece the puzzle together. Merriweather makes a house-call visit to his old pal John Clancy (Hopkins), a gifted but troubled clairvoyant who has helped Joe solve crimes in the past. Now secluded out in the country, Clancy just wants to be left alone to his own devices. Yet, given the bond forged with Joe over the years, he cannot. Soon, all three are investigating the various murder-scenes, most of which are interrupted by Clancy's precognitive visions - ones that are rendered visually unappealing, awkwardly rushed and stridently loud. Clues are soon unearthed that point to the serial killer also being a psychic-seer, and not only one as gifted as Clancy, but actually a step ahead of his, and by proxy the FBI's, every single move.

Here's the kicker. Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell), the serial killer, has been exacting a string of mercy killings. That is, every person he's murdered was either terminally ill or utterly incurable. In his mind, he's actually doing his victims a favor. But why then leave so many clues for the cops? This strikes a chord in Clancy, as he not only lost his own daughter to illness, but knows all too well the perils of playing God through these abilities to read minds and forecast the future. When Joe suddenly goes indisposed (for reasons we won't betray), Clancy teams up Cowles to track and quell Ambrose's dastardly designs. But it isn't easy. Again, being one step ahead of the two, Ambrose leads Cowles and Clancy down a lane of twisted traps and perilous pratfalls. A few work, most don't, and in the end, we're treated to flatly confounding showdown between the two mind-warped mediums on a subway that unfortunately renders the entire experience forgettable.

Which, pardon the pun, is a bit unfortunate, as SOLACE is built around a pretty compelling conceit. A psychic hired to find a psychic serial killer is an interesting idea, and to be truthful, there are a few standout scenes involving grisly murder that carry the movie a long way. For grue-hounds in desperate need of a fix, there's little shortage of splattered brains and eviscerated entrails in the flick. As for the acting, Hopkins is incapable of turning in a bad performance, his effortless and invisible "acting" is so second nature at this stage in his illustrious career, so smoothe and seamless, that it may come off as phoning it in or failing to try, but that just isn't the case. The movie would suffer interminably had he not been cast, even if the redolence of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS makes his presence feel a bit gimmicky. Farrell and Morgan are credible as always, while Cornish continues to not only show off her radiant beauty, but prove that she's capable of going toe-to-toe with such iconic acting heavyweights (Hopkins, anyway). Between this and LAVENDER, Cornish is coming out smelling sweetly.

In the end though, SOLACE can neither quite deliver on its name, nor capitalize on the captivating setup the first half so brazenly boasts. One of the major downturns is just how choppily edited the movie is, how its rushed pacing and slapdash construction renders the whole third act rather inconsequential. The movie as a whole never quite transcends the promising material in a way that becomes a memorable must-see. Again, it sort of feels like an elaborate CSI episode with movie stars, one that starts strong but gradually deteriorates. The last third especially unravels in a way that not only struggles to make sense, but woefully fails to offer any sort of earned catharsis from the characters that the audience can cling to. Not that we need to feel good, but we should feel something. Sadly, the only real SOLACE lent from the movie is when the credits begin to roll.

Extra Tidbit: SOLACE enters theaters December 16th.
Source: AITH



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