Solace (2015)

(Video On-Demand, January 2017) I’m not, in theory, a big fan of supernatural police thrillers—usually, the fantastic elements overwhelm the procedural aspects of the thriller and make much of it moot. Solace’s particular reputation is affected by the knowledge that it took nearly two years to be released, and that it ended up on VOD rather than theatres. All of this makes up for low expectations, but there’s something curiously engaging in the result. The plot is filled with nonsense, the “rules” are barely adhered to, the characters are sometimes barely sketched … but it sort of works thanks to the directing and acting. Anthony Hopkins headlines the film, playing a psychic asked by a police friend to help with one last case … a case that seems to be targeting him directly. Colin Farrell turns in a remarkable third-act appearance as the antagonist, marking up another good supporting role now that he’s wisely shied away from superstar status. But director Afonso Poyart turns in the best performance with savvy directing that’s not above borrowing familiar images and methods, but still elevating the material above B-grade status. There’s a surprising amount of special effects, especially in the last third of the film, keeping up Solace’s ability to keep viewers interested in the most basic what-will-happen-next sense. There’s some interesting material in the conclusion of the film, even as broad as it can be at times. In short, I had a better-than-expected time, and that’s enough for a marginal recommendation as something more than the usual VOD thriller.

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