After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, being featured at San Diego Comic Con and then being released throughout Europe in 2009 and 2010, “Solomon Kane” has finally found an American release. This is a mixed blessing; while the film serves its purpose as an action movie, inducing rushes of adrenaline, that’s about all it ultimately does.
Set in the early 16th century, the film follows its eponymous hero, Solomon Kane (James Purefoy), a man whose soul is condemned after he spent the majority of his life addicted to killing. So he decides to seek redemption and attempts to live the rest of his life in peace. However, peace does not come very easily. When the opportunity to return to his addiction arrives in the form of an evil sorcerer and a lovely young lady who is captured, Solomon welcomes the relapse.
With the main focus almost exclusively on Solomon, it is absolutely essential for the portrayal of his character to be excellent, and Purefoy more than fulfills that requirement. His gruff voice and body language make him seem both terrifying and devout.
Although it’s gruesome and unsettling at times, it is impossible not to appreciate the visual effect of flying blood in slow or frozen motion. The film is quite visually appealing. Each location fits the film perfectly — aesthetically and in terms of the storytelling. Fire is used often, though not excessively, and occupies an essential place in the film’s palette.
Still, much of the film does not work very well. Solomon’s character is barely developed and does not truly change by the end of the film. The story switches between events in Solomon’s present and flashbacks to his past. Even though the flashbacks explain some things, much of his story is still left out, leaving holes in the audience’s understanding of the character.
These flashbacks also give the impression that more is happening than really is. After each flashback occurs, Solomon has progressed further in his present-day journey than he had before the flashback. This makes it seem as though the story is progressing when it is actually just jumping ahead.
But overall, “Solomon Kane” is a well-made film. It is exciting and contains apparent biblical allegories, with the film’s final half hour standing out as particularly intense. Even if he is addicted to killing, Solomon stands out as a hero worthy of leading an action movie.
Jordan Spayd is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]