Starring Anthony Hopkins, Abbie Cornish, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Collin Farrell
Script revisionist James Vanderbilt (Independence Day Resurgence) is probably not the guy you want trying to fix a troubled script. Nonetheless, Solace offers viewers two things: icon Anthony Hopkins back on the big screen and at least some entertainment value in a bizarre crime drama. This psychological and borderline paranormal thriller opens up like a classic case of The X-Files, with an unexplained murder mystery, cut to our two FBI agents driving out into the woods to meet an old friend. Screenwriters Sean Bailey and Ted Griffin are clearly fans of the hit show that tried and failed to re-boot itself early in 2016. Cornish and Morgan have a familiar partner chemistry, both display their own Mulder & Scully qualities.
A serial killer has now claimed the lives of four unrelated people, leaving clues and notes at each body that contain no fingerprints or fibers. FBI Agents Joe Merriwether (Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Cornish) recruit retired doctor John Clancy (Hopkins) who is clairvoyant to help point them in the right direction. What Clancy sees touching evidence and the dead bodies is disturbing even for him. He understands the trap they are playing into and the killer has even greater intuition. When they learn how all the dead strangers are connected, the case becomes even more confusing. “Maybe he is sparing them pain,” Clancy suggests. “It’s still murder,” Cowles insists.
It’s the best X-Files episode we have gotten in years, even if that wasn’t intentional.
Hopkins has never been able to outrun his Hannibal Lector persona (didn’t help he made so many crappy sequels), even here, playing a good guy with a gift, he can’t shake off those traits. Maybe it’s the way director Afonso Poyart just can’t help himself frame the Oscar winning actor, or Hopkins range is just limited to a particular style, but certainly there is a slice of Dr. Lector here that’s distracting. Solace is good television, that’s what is feels like, television adapted to feature film. There are so many editing and cinematography choices that feel like a gimmick and don’t fit the aesthetic of the movie. Cityscape shots via helicopter and flash forward visons Clancy has feel like they are plucked out of a completely different movie.
Solace is just catchy enough with it’s disturbing visions to make you want to see what happens next. Farrell shows up near the end of the film, but it’s the moments between Cornish’s almost Scully and Hopkins nice Lector, that make the film work in the few moments. It’s the best X-Files episode we have gotten in years, even if that wasn’t intentional. The irony is that Solace was originally conceived as a sequel for the David Fincher film Se7en, but Vanderbilt retooled it as a stand-alone, resulting in the mess it currently exists in. It’s not the worst film of the year, but certainly nothing to brag about.
Not an ounce of originality as it borrows from television and movies to present familiar characters and plot.