HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:72
Anthony Hopkins has pretty much checked out of acting for the better part of a decade. Sure, he’s played a few roles in films like “Red 2”, the “Thor” movies and “Westworld” (the TV show, not the movie), but the acting fire that used to burn in those expressive eyes have just about gone out completely. The last few leading man roles he’s been in have been the veteran actor mumbling the lines in that sort of succinct way of speaking he does so well with a look in his eyes that just begs for the director to yell “cut!”. “Solace” gives us some interesting potential with the script (a script that supposedly was originally meant as a sequel for “Se7en”), but is wasted by a stumbling directorial effort and the general lack of enthusiasm by all involved (Anthony Hopkins is the best of the bunch and even he looks about as bored and lifeless as could be).
I have to point out first that some of the plot points will be revealed in this review as it’s kind of hard to discuss the film without revealing SOME of the surprises. I’ll try to keep them to a bare minimum though.
FBI agents Joe Merriweather (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his psychologist partner, Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish), are hunting all over for a serial killer who is stabbing people in the back of the neck with an ice pick. It’s a clean kill, and everything that this killer does is undeniably meticulous down to the kill stroke. Joe is about up to here with the case and finally decides bring in an old FBI asset whom he used to work with in years past. This old “asset” is John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins), a psychic of incredible power who has gone into a self-imposed exile after the loss of his daughter a few years back due to leukemia. Joe and Katherine head out to try and bring the old man into the case, but Clancy naturally declines their offer as he just wants to live in peace. Well, WE all know that he’s going to come around, but Clancy hems and haws for the characters in the movie just long enough and then “poof”, we’ve got ourselves a psychic.
Hunting down the killer seems to be fairly straight forward at first, but soon it becomes obvious that the killer is not your ordinary guy with a hatred of people or some such fetish. He’s always several steps ahead of the game, stringing the FBI along and even keeping Clancy’s vision a bit muddled (a reason that is explained about 50+ minutes into the film in a twist that we all really saw coming). With the killer (we all know it’s Colin Ferrell from the top billing) revealed it’s only a matter of time until they catch him, but it’s the reason WHY he’s going to be caught that is really the crux of this entire situation.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93266[/img]Even though it tries to be incredibly clever and full of twists, “Solace” really isn’t that hard to dissect. I had most of the twists and turns guessed even before they were revealed. Although, with the amount of background dialog from the narration going on you almost can figure it out as they hand it to you on a silver platter. The reveal that the killer is not a normal human being is pretty obvious from the get go, and with Colin Ferrell billed top cover with Anthony Hopkins you have an idea of WHO he is going to be before you even see his face (or know that it’s a he). Several of the twists in the second and third act feel incredibly “Hollywood like” if you know what I mean. Especially the final one that leaves you groaning and holding your head as they whisk the rug from underneath you and you realize the entire premise of the movie is a fraud (reminds me a bit too much of that Nick Cage movie “Next” for that reason).
The cast is ok, but the script and Afonso Poyart’s (this is only his second English speaking film that he’s directed) slapdash direction doesn’t exactly give them a whole lot to work with. Morgan does a solid enough job with what he’s given, but he’s never really anything more than the standard character he plays in all his films, just as an FBI agent. Cornish is “meh”, and sadly Anthony Hopkins is the one that really keeps the film semi interesting. And you DO remember that I said that he looks completely checked out the whole time. A scenario that robs the movie of power where there is definite call for dramatic intensity and Hopkins just mouths his dialog with a blank expression on his face the entire time. Even Farrell with his third act reveal is pretty impressive, although he keeps switching from an American to Irish accent at will.
Rated R for violence and bloody images throughout, sexuality, nudity and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93274[/img]Lionsgate’s 2.39:1 AVC encoded image is struck from a rather standard looking digital shoot. Colors are pleasing and warm with a majority of the time looking quite homey. Certain stylistically shot psychic scenes show a more artistic flair with over saturated blood reds, deep blacks and Apple Ipod whites. Fine detail is generally exceptional, with close up shots of Anthony Hopkins’ face showing every wrinkle and line, and intimate clothing details showing individual fibers on coat jackets etc. The blacks are deep and inky, but they do suffer from crush and banding. Surprisingly there is a decent amount of banding shown on brightly lit sequences too. Especially ones with a lot of whites in the image. It’s a good looking shoot for the most part, but the banding and crush is what keeps it from looking truly GREAT in my opinion.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93282[/img]While the movie may not be amazing, the audio mix for “Solace” certainly gave my system a good workout. While it’s not a wildly NUANCED mix, it is aggressive and uses some great placement effects with the constant “tense” score and the upspurts of violence that would pop up throughout the movie. The LFE channel is easily the biggest and badest channel in the yard, with big sweeping waves of LFE that wash over the listener. Surrounds are almost equal with some really cool placement of effects throughout the movie (the end scene with the train is incredibly immersive), and the score flows in and out of the back of the room throughout. Dialog is strong and clear and completely balanced with the rest of the track. An excellent mix that acts as the highlight of the film.
• Audio Commentary with Director Afonso Poyart
• "Visions and Voices: The Making of Solace" Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
• Other Lionsgate Trailers
“Solace” was originally supposed to be a PROPOSED sequel to “Se7en” and I can see the similarities in the w ay that the serial killer is handled. Truth be told, I can see a lot of potential in the story. The movement from serial killer, to psychic, to psychic serial killer is actually a pretty novel twist from your standard tropes about tracking down a mysterious killer who’s way too smart for their own good. It’s the handling of said potential that leaves much to be desired. The end product is a film that makes the viewer feel slightly cheated by certain choices made (such as some of Clancy’s visions and seeings are just POTENTIAL ones that turn out to be false after a while). I’m always sad when potential is squandered on poor directing and writing, but “Solace” is one of those movies that just wasn’t meant to be. The technical marks for the film range from very good to amazing, but the extras are once again thrown under the bus. I would just skip it.
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish
Directed by: Afonso Poyart
Written by: Sean Bailey, Ted Griffin
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 13th, 2017
Buy Solace On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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