Understandably, given that it is based on a novel by pulp author Robert E. Howard and directed by Michael J. ‘Deathwatch’ Bassett, I had incredibly low expectations of Solomon Kane. Sadly however, my expectations were not low enough as I found myself subject to two hours of the most nonsensical, cliché riddled, low budget bilge that I have ever been paid to endure. Whilst getting paid to watch movies is a privilege I wholeheartedly adore, every now and then a film comes along that you would gladly pay not to see. Solomon Kane joins the likes of Dance Flick and Sorority Row, as a film upon which I bestow that dubious honor.
From its inexplicable opening, where a villainous Kane comes face to face with the ‘Devil’s Reaper’, (think Ghost of Christmases yet to come only not as scary) Solomon Kane’s character arc is more reminiscent of a U-bend than anything arc shaped. The titular ‘hero’ is instantly transformed into a puritanical dullard with no exposition of inner turmoil or soul searching, only to return, inexplicably, to his blood thirsty ways after witnessing the butchering of some guy he just met, played with hammy aplomb by a seemingly self-loathing Pete Postlethwaite.
Of course I am being deliberately trite in my recapping of the plot but I don’t write for the Independant so I am allowed. What follows is a ‘revenge by numbers’ tale that is fast becoming an overused trope of Hollywood cinema, see Edge of Darkness/Law Abiding Citizen for more. The worse than usual James Purefoy struggles with a character void of characterisation. You can almost hear the director screaming “More like Hugh Jackman, MORE LIKE HUGH JACKMAN!” from a megaphone just off camera but sadly Purefoy just isn’t up to it.
Purefoy flounders in a sea of horse shit, both literally and metaphorically, grossly unsupported by a cast of Holby City rejects. Despite being littered by baddies and nasties which infringe the copyright of everything from Lord of the Rings and Pan’s Labyrinth to I am Legend. Despite his desire the live a peaceful existence Kane fights everyone and no one at the same time. The most notable example of this is what I was expecting to be the climactic fight scene with some kind of Balrog. However, in the end Kane just shoots some bloke whose fallen asleep on a newspaper and the Balrog crumbles.
If there was one good thing about the lead performance (and there wasn’t), it was that it reminded me just how amazing Viggo Mortenson’s portrayal of Aragorn was. The similarities between the two literary characters are numerous but thankfully the performances could not be more contrasting. Aragorn is steady but brooding, a reluctant leader whilst Kane is an arrogant, dislikeable, gullible jerk who, despite the film’s heavy handed exposition, couldn’t lead a yellow Labrador in a high visibility jacket.
I can only hope that you heed my warning and avoid this film like the plague. If my review isn’t damning enough, this abomination is touted as a trilogy and that thought is far more terrifying than anything in this abomination of a film. So ,please, please, please, don’t encourage them by wasting your hard earned money.
N.B. Action heroes should never have a West Country accent!