“Sometimes the greatest acts of love are the hardest acts to commit.”
After David Fincher’s Seven (or Se7en if you want to be a jerk about it) became a big hit and spawned a new craze of serial killer thrillers, studio bigwigs in their “wisdom” decided that there needed to a Seven sequel. Eight, perhaps? Fincher and Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker wanted nothing to do with the idea, but that didn’t deter the studio. They took a pre-existing script and re-worked it, turning it into a new thriller in which Seven‘s Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) suddenly has psychic powers, which he uses to hunt a new serial killer.
Needless to say, that sequel didn’t happen.
And yet, here we are, with Solace, which takes that original script and runs wild with it. Instead of Morgan Freeman’s Somerset, we have Anthony Hopkins as John Clancy, a reclusive psychic who sometimes works with the FBI. Clancy has been in hiding ever since the death of his daughter, but when a new killer stumps FBI man and Clancy buddy Joe Merriweather (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Joe and his skeptical partner Abbie (Abbie Cornish) seek out Clancy’s help.
This is all pretty by-the-numbers stuff; like a film version of the TV adaptation of The Dead Zone, or the underrated Millennium. What really perks Solace up is its killer, played with smug charm by Colin Farrell. Farrell’s character, Charles Ambrose, doesn’t make an appearance until more than halfway through the proceedings, but when the film comes to life when he finally decides to show his face. You see, it turns out Ambrose is psychic too, so now you have two super-psychics going head to head. Yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. But there’s a charm to all this cheese, mostly thanks to Farrell’s grinning psycho performance.
Hopkins is, of course, a fantastic actor. But he also has a tendency to phone it in when the material isn’t up to snuff. It was invigorating to see Hopkins actually acting again on HBO’s Westworld, but sadly the same can’t be said for Solace. It’s clear the distinguished actor is going through the motions to cash his check, and who can blame him.
Director Afonso Poyart dips into stylish territory whenever he’s portraying the psychic visions that Clancy or Ambrose are experiencing, and there’s a car chase sequence that’s rather exciting. But otherwise, the film coasts along. Solace is the type of thriller tailor-made for Netflix or HBO re-runs; something to flip on during a rainy day. Still, it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a Seven sequel with psychic Morgan Freeman. Take solace in the fact that we avoided that, at least.