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Review: “Solace”

on December 16 | in MOVIE REVIEWS | by | with No Comments

Select Cities December 16th/Directed by Afonso Poyart/Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish and Colin Farrell/Thriller/101 minutes/Rated R

Summary:

So this psychic hooks up with the FBI to catch a serial killer… oh, you’ve heard this one before?

But wait, there’s more. “Solace” is almost a carbon copy of David Fincher’s “Se7en”. Except instead of killing people for their sins, this psycho is mercy-killing the terminally ill.

But hold on, here’s the interesting part: according to Cinema Blend, “Solace” was a spec script that at one point was intended to be a sequel to Fincher’s 1995 thriller. That idea got scrapped and now, many years later, the finished product is strikingly similar  to the film it was meant to succeed.

What’s more, the film stars the grandaddy of the genre. If we’re talking about neo-noir psychological thrillers, Hannibal Lecter is clearly its greatest icon. Sir Anthony Hopkins is not the villain here, rather a psychic doctor reluctantly tapped to aid in the investigation. He figures out early that his opponent is another, even more gifted psychic (Colin Farrell).

Clancy, who’s been in seclusion since the death of his daughter from leukemia, takes FBI agents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish) on a circuitous route to the answers. As we find out, things are destined to happen no matter what anybody does about anything. I guess that’s the trouble with psychics trying to outwit one another. Like trying to look at the back of your head in the mirror.

Dr. Clancy’s visions are vague and repetitive, with imagery galore, alluding to religion (playing God is the theme) solace-2015-cover-large as subtly as a Marilyn Manson video. It turns into a broken record–a real taste of hell. Excise about 5 minutes of that, and “Solace” gets an extra star simply for ceasing to be painful.

The flick wasn’t very well received on its long journey to a limited release, but I’m actually going to defend it, despite being derivative and periodically convulsion-inducing. What saves the movie? Colin Farrell.

The good: It is well-written (Sean Bailey, Ted Griffin) and well-acted (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish). Director Afonso Poyart (“Two Rabbits”) wasn’t done any favors in the editing room,  and he does have a good sense of space and ambience. But where he does  the best is with the Hopkins/Farrell dynamic in the third act, which not only saves the movie from going straight to the bargain-bin, it changes it altogether.

The bad: NCIS quality crime-scene flashbacks/forwards border on maddening. Not only are they unnecessary, but they are unnecessary twelve times. Come on.

So, if you’re in the mood for a little “Dead Zone” meets the step-cousin-once-removed of “Se7en”,  this might be for you. Just muscle through the awful MTV filler bits, and you’ll find a decent thriller with a pretty cool history.

Washington, DC – Opens Today at AMC Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria

–M. Parsons

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