Movie Review: Solomon Kane
Rating: R (violence throughout)
Length: 104 minutes
Release date: Sept. 28, 2012
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett
Stars: 3 out of 5
A lifetime of work in the killing profession is bound to bring the killer face-to-face with his own mortality. In the opening scene of "Solomon Kane," the title character (played by James Purefoy from HBO's "Rome") finds himself in such a situation. Over the next 104 minutes, the audience sees an evil killer evolve into a creature who fights the very thing he has become. This transformation takes place through gory, bloody, vicious scenes depicting epic battles and the depraved acts of maniacs. Together, these events make up a very engaging action adventure that will appeal to many modern audiences.
Solomon Kane was a murderer for hire, charged with defending English forces against the evils that have infiltrated the world. A battle in an African village has Kane slaying men and demons to get to a nearby castle. There, Kane and his men are ambushed by demons led by a creature in black robes, wielding flaming swords and calling himself the Devil's Reaper. He informs Kane that his soul is promised to hell, and that he intends to get it there. Kane refuses to surrender and escapes through a window.
The encounter forces Kane to change. He adopts a vow of nonviolence and religious purity in the hopes that such actions will redeem his soul. He travels back to England, where the ex-mercenary ends up protecting some Puritan travelers. He loses his vow of nonviolence long enough to fight off the henchmen of an evil sorcerer, played by Jason Flemyng (Mr. Hyde from "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"). A girl is kidnapped in the process. Her father promises Kane that saving the girl is all he needs to do to gain redemption.
Kane unleashes an evil killing demon to save his own soul. In the process, he discovers that he has personal ties to the sorcerer. These ties threaten to derail his mission and damn his soul, despite all his previous efforts.
Robert E. Howard created the original comic book character, Solomon Kane, in 1928. Michael Bassett brought the comic to the big screen, releasing the finished product in 2009. It came to America three years later. Such a shuffle would normally condemn a film to box office purgatory, but that may not happen to "Solomon Kane." The original work has a following and so does the film. Releasing the movie in the United States builds upon the previously established marketing foundation, which should increase box office figures.
The darkness that permeates the film comes mainly from Bassett's choice of some deliciously creepy backdrop landscapes in the Czech Republic. The locale helps set the scene for a dark and gory film with sinister themes. This is not a warning to audiences, but an invitation to those wanting to view a great, action fantasy film. One of the things that makes "Solomon Kane" work despite the heavy violence is that all the killing is a part of the story. James Purefoy puts on a commanding performance of a man who is so evil that he knows he has to prove himself to stay out of the clutches of hell. In such a storyline, the killing is a natural part of the movie. Bassett is unapologetic about this, as was the original creator of the comic books series.
One of the most redeeming qualities of the film is that is does not try too hard to be fantastic. "Solomon Kane" also never ventures too far over the top, making the story easy to lose oneself in. There is even a message, for anyone who chooses to see it. Kane proves that anyone can come to terms with his past and gain redemption from a lifetime of misdeeds. The film shows that it is never too late to change. In the end, Kane vows to hunt down and destroy all of the evil in the world. Such a goal seems ambitious, but Kane is the only modern figure who seems capable of accomplishing such a thing.
Audiences will have a hard time accepting that this film is based on a 1928 comic book. The modern connections made by Bassett, and his complete immersion into the action from the film's onset, makes "Solomon Kane" a must-see.