Starring: James Purefoy, Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige, Max Von Sydowe, Jason Flemyng
North Africa, 1600AD: A ruthless and brutal privateer called Solomon Kane ransacks a palace only to come face-to-face with the Devil’s Reaper of Souls, who has come to claim Solomon’s. Their confrontation is enough to make Solomon renounce his ways and return to England, donating his wealth to the Church and covering his body in religious symbols to ward off evil. After spending an unquiet year in solitude at a monastery, Solomon wanders through the desolate wintry countryside. A chance meeting with a family travelling to the New World offers Solomon a glimpse of salvation, but evil forces are targeting him and soon he must take up pistol and sword once more...
Review:Solomon Kane is the Anti Hollywood action movie. It is harsh, brutal, set in a muddy, soaking wet England. The hero never quips snappy come-backs, there is no unnecessary exposition nor any voice-over explaining the action. The heroine spends a lot of the time drenched, bedraggled and never wears even a smudge of makeup.Solomon Kane is also a near-perfect “origins” tale for a hero few have heard of. Robert E. Howerd, creator of other iconic characters such as Conan, Red Sonja and Kull the Conqueror, never actually bothered to write an origin for his dark and deadly hero, instead plomping him in the midst of action in Africa.
James Purefoy (Marcus Anthony in HBO’s Rome) owns the role of Solomon Kane – a man filled with bloodlust and greed who is suddenly slapped in the face with the impending consequences of his actions. Suddenly Heaven and Hell – especially Hell – are very real propositions, something which comes as a bit of a shock to the very secular Kane. Purefoy manages to convey a man battling many inner demons. He is a powerful, deadly warrior who believes he must turn his back on violence in order to redeem himself. A heart-rending confrontation shows him that his soul may be damned, but he can still save the innocent.
The production design is superb. The look of the film harks back to classic horrors such as Blood on Satan’s Claw and Witchfinder General – a bleak countryside populated by fearful and downtrodden peasants. At one point Solomon walks past a funeral, where two of the mourners are wearing grotesque bird masks. The story doesn’t call for many big sets, but the initial throne room and the finale are both fully realised.
holds its own too. Solomon is a brutal, cunning fighter, taking on multiple opponents at the same time, his speed and agility allowing him to use his opponents against each other, often fatally getting in each other’s way. His swords butcher people, ripping their bodies open, exposing their bloody insides. Let the squeamish beware.
Some critics are complaining about the creature that turns up at the end of the film, saying it’s like the end-of-level baddie in a video game. I can certainly see that, and also feel that the film-makers wanted to up the stakes for the audience. Personally I did feel it’s presence was a little jarring. Other than the throne room scene at the beginning of the film, the supernatural elements in Solomon Kane had been kept quite low-key (an encounter with a witch being a prime example), so having this giant beast appear pushes the film deeper into fantasy rather than the realistic tone set til then. It’s also rather bizarre that this creature is the most colourful thing in the film!
Solomon Kane follows the standards set so far this year by Daybreakers and Book of Eli. Bone-crunching action met by great characters and a compelling storyline. James Purefoy is badass and I can’t wait to see more of Solomon’s adventures.