Solace (2015)



Agent’s Cowles and Merriwether are tracking a serial killer involved in a string of gruesome murders. But so far they’ve hit a brick wall. Not only do they have no evidence to point to their identity, but they also can’t even figure out how the killer is choosing their victims. So Merriwether turns to a former colleague, Dr. John Clancy, to help with the case. Clancy has helped the FBI before with his renowned psychic abilities, solving cases that were previously deemed nearly unsolvable. Cowles is highly skeptical of this decision, but it doesn’t take long for Clancy to prove his worth and pick up on things that the FBI had previously missed. But as the clues the killer leaves behind become more targeted, it soon starts to become clear that bringing Clancy into the case was the killer’s sole intention and that the good doctor might not be the only highly talented psychic running around town.


Solace is an American supernatural mystery/thriller from 2015. The script was originally written sometime around 2000 and was shopped around to several studios. At one point, New Line Cinema got their hands on it and wanted to rewrite the plot as a sequel to the film Se7en (they wanted to call it “Ei8ht” *barf*), with Morgan Freeman’s character Detective William Somerset coming back after he had somehow developed psychic powers, and then using said powers to solve the crime…. Or, depending on where you get your stories from, the project was initially int3nded (yes that was an intentional spelling, don’t @ me) as a Se7en sequel all along before getting nixed. Either way, (and blissfully for all those involved,) Se7en director David Fincher thankfully put the kibosh on that travesty of a plan and Se7en was spared the indignity of a cheesy sequel. Or at least Morgan Freeman was spared the indignity, because the film still ended up being tweaked and made anyway, this time with Anthony freaking Hopkins in the lead role. A choice which simultaneously helps elevate the film beyond its pulpy plot and highlights all of its still very cheesy flaws.



If the film made one smart choice, it involves its casting decisions. Not only do you get the pleasure of seeing Hopkins on screen (which is always nice), but you’ve also got Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell making up the main cast, and even people like Janine Turner, Xander Berkeley and Sharon Lawrence taking up small, supporting roles. I mean, that’s a freaking great cast for this movie. Far better than it probably deserves. It seems to be one of those films following that weird trend I’ve noticed lately where otherwise B-Movie’s are given A-List actors in an effort to bump up the film’s quality. Which, I’ll be honest, doesn’t necessarily work in this film’s case, because all of its issues really revolve around the story elements. But the higher caliber of acting does at least help keep you more engaged in what’s going on than you might have been otherwise. Hell, Hopkins’ character is so subdued that he’s barely putting in any effort (Note: he’s listed as a producer, so he probably isn’t), and yet an effortless Anthony Hopkins’ performance is still more captivating than anything that they managed to pull out of that cringy Jacob’s Ladder remake. That, ladies and gentlemen, is just plain skill.


But even if Anthony had put 110% effort into this project, it still wouldn’t have turned this into a great film, because the story is just… Well, not that good, really. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s fine, and it’s followable, and some parts of it are even kind of fun. But it also ends up feeling far too predictable, and even too overconfident, and maybe even naive, in how it expects the viewer to accept the content. There are just too many leaps of logic and astronomical coincidences to ground this supernatural thriller into the world they’re trying to make. So while the story itself can often be fun and original, it’s in the execution that it suffers from.


Case in point, there are several scenes that are meant to have some pretty hefty emotional weight to them, but while the film clearly expects to to feel those moments, it never really feels like the movie has actually earned them. For instance, in one particular scene in a hospital, Merriwether and Clancy, who we’re told are two old, close friends, are meant to be having a very deep, emotional conversation. But it never feels that way, because the movie hasn’t done a good enough job at establishing that emotional connection. And yes, part of the problem is Clancy has tried to emotionally cut himself off from the world due to past trauma, but the real issue is that up to this point we’re just been told how they feel. We don’t actually see these connections the film is professing. And it’s not that the scene itself isn’t emotional or poorly acted. Hopkins may be a bit dull-faced, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is acting the hell out of that scene. No, it’s because the film hasn’t done anything to deserve that, or any, of the emotional responses it’s vying for.


Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked Solace. It’s a well-acted film, with a good concept that sorta feels like a combination of Silence of the Lambs and Se7en (perhaps unsurprisingly). But it’s also the kind of movie that thinks it’s far more clever and competent than it is, and is trying desperately to be something more than a fun B-Movie. But that’s all it ended up being: A fun B-Movie. It’s fairly fast-paced, and often exciting, and the chemistry between Hopkins and Ferrell is great (even if the latter often feels far too goofy to make for a convincing villain). But the far too familiar story elements and giant leaps in logic really hold it back. But still, it’s an enjoyable film and not a waste of time if you’re a fan of supernatural thrillers.

Solace is available on a variety of streaming services.

Solace is also available on DVD and Bluray.

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