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Solomon Kane

2009 | 104 min | Not rated | 2.39:1

Solomon Kane


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Theatrical release date

 21 September, 2012
 19 February, 2010

Country of origin

 United States



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Solomon Kane


Screenshots from Solomon Kane Blu-ray

Solomon Kane Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 13, 2012

I believe the only viewers able to extract something of substance out of “Solomon Kane” will be those already tuned into the Robert E. Howard creation, which debuted in print in 1928. While it’s not a difficult film to dissect, the grit and groans seem programmed to satisfy longtime fans, not newcomers to the wrath of a God-fearing mercenary. Unfocused and noisy, there are numerous colorless, violent movies like “Solomon Kane” these days, with the effort’s combustibility more numbing than rousing, leaving a perfectly acceptable lead performance from James Purefoy to carry the lion’s share of the picture’s appeal, and it’s a weight that’s often too much for the actor to bear.

In 1601, Solomon Kane (James Purefoy) is a broken man, having abandoned his former life as a ruthless killing machine, unafraid of any enemy that dared to approach him. During an age of religious paranoia, Kane is fearful to offend God, taking refuge in a monastery that soon wants nothing to do with the former madman. Sent out into the world, Kane befriends a traveling family of Puritans out to make a new life for themselves, with William (Pete Postlethwaite) taking a shine to the loner’s tale of woe, accepting him as an equal. Coming across evidence of witchcraft, William’s daughter Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood) is marked by a ghoul and kidnapped, forcing Kane back into his old habits, setting out to retrieve the girl before she’s consumed by Malachi (Jason Flemyng), an evil overlord out to rule the world. Reviving his fury, Kane hits the road to save the day, greeting wicked enemies and old friends while finding his shattered past with his estranged father (Max von Sydow) has returned to haunt him.

Finally receiving a North American release after its 2010 run in Europe, “Solomon Kane” couldn’t have found worse timing for its launch. Although it’s based on venerated source material, the feature arrives on the heels of titles such as “Ironclad” and the Nicolas Cage medieval horror movie, “Season of the Witch,” which also trafficked in a desaturated world of swordsmanship and religious oppression, tracing the efforts of a single warrior as he fights to protect the innocent and redeem his own soul. Director Michael J. Bassett doesn’t bring a level of originality to the screen that would aid “Solomon Kane” in locating an irresistible genre personality. Sticking with trendy visual tools and muddy settings, the picture looks disappointingly familiar, unable to reach out and grab the viewer with its collection of demon hordes and untrustworthy allies.

Keeping the film alert is Purefoy, who delivers the right volume of torment for Kane that keeps the character approachable while the script enjoys throwing everything it can at the soldier, even crucifixion. Once a reckless, fearless brute who taunted the Devil (the prologue establishes his rabid intensity), Kane is soon broken by fear of damnation, looking to shield himself in solitude to avoid his sins. The character is thickly drawn, yet Purefoy locates shades of distress within the he-man, lending the role a welcome vulnerability to aid in his heroic pursuit. Also physically suited for the part, Purefoy manages the combat sequences well, creating a plausibly fearsome figure clad in Puritan garb. The supporting cast is negligible, often too quickly dismissed, leaving Purefoy to keep the movie together with his defined emotional arc.

Perhaps the greatest downfall of the film is its lack of a central villain. We meet the Masked Rider early in the story, a faceless man who slaughters anything in his way, leading his zombified troops into battle. The name of the sorcerer Malachi is soon passed around, adding another layer of tension to the tale, though one that’s only paid off in the grand finale. The climax also brings out a towering demon eager to devour Kane and rule the world, blurring the chain of command in a feature that should really only pursue one baddie. Time to weed through the villains and their motivation winds “Solomon Kane” in the second half, with draggy exposition disrupting the pace of the unholy payoff.

Promising sequels that will likely never come, “Solomon Kane” doesn’t inspire much hope for the future. It’s a stillborn origin story that fails to attain the fluid, pulpy spirit it’s reaching for. Instead, it’s a cross between a video game and half-realized epic, grounding the slash-and-pray merriment by playing everything so conventionally.

Starring: James Purefoy, Max von Sydow, Pete Postlethwaite, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Jason Flemyng, Ian Whyte
Director: Michael J. Bassett

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Solomon Kane 51 Jun 25, 2010
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