(US/Switzerland - 2016)
Directed by Afonso Poyart. Written by Sean Bailey and Ted Griffin. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, Marley Shelton, Xander Berkeley, Sharon Lawrence, Janine Turner, Matt Gerald, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Josh Close, Kenny Johnson, Luisa Moraes, Autumn Dial. (R, 101 mins)
Completed over three years ago and arriving at the end of 2016 as a Lionsgate VOD dumpjob sporting a 2014 copyright in the credits, SOLACE is the kind of high-concept serial killer thriller that was commonplace in multiplexes in the 1990s, at least until the barrage of CSI-inspired network TV procedurals stole their thunder. Even as recently as a few years ago, it would've seemed impossible to believe this kind of movie could be completely abandoned by its distributor (part of the reason for its delay was the bankruptcy of Relativity Media, who sold it to Lionsgate), especially with a cast headlined by several name actors. Even more surprising is that SOLACE's script, credited to producer Sean Bailey (TRON: LEGACY) and veteran screenwriter Ted Griffin (RAVENOUS, OCEAN'S ELEVEN, MATCHSTICK MEN), had been in development for so long that it was initially reworked by New Line Cinema to be a sequel to SE7EN for Morgan Freeman, titled--wait for it--EI8HT. The idea was flatly rejected by David Fincher, which put the whole project in turnaround. It was eventually dusted off and given further uncredited rewrites by James Vanderbilt (ZODIAC) and Peter Morgan (FROST/NIXON) before ending up in its current state as one of the silliest thrillers to come down the pike in some time.
...getting all the way...to the F...B...I!" takedown of an incredulous Cowles, running through every sordid secret of her past and thus, finally convincing her that he's the real deal. But once director Afonso Poyart goes all in on the psychic battle of wits between Clancy and Ambrose, SOLACE just becomes one eye-rolling contrivance after another. The highlight of the film is the psychic car chase, with Cowles behind the wheel and Clancy riding shotgun, barking "Turn left now!" and "Turn right now!" and finally "Stop right here!" when Clancy senses the other car in the vicinity, so they proceed to just wait until the guy they're chasing passes them, to which Clancy barks "There! Go!" In at least his fourth dumb thriller to hit VOD this year (you almost certainly missed MISCONDUCT, BLACKWAY, and COLLIDE), Hopkins isn't even pretending to give a shit anymore, but even though the movies have become junk, he's one of the very few actors in his age group--he'll be 80 in 2017--who's still getting lead roles. Farrell doesn't turn up until a little past the one-hour mark, with his role requiring him to do little more than speak in ominous riddles with a wide-eyed glare (yes, he gets the obligatory "We're not so different, you and I" monologue) and strike occasional Jesus Christ poses in Clancy's psychic visions. SOLACE is an absolutely inessential movie but it's always watchable, even if it's only for a few unintended laughs. I mean, come on. That psychic car chase is like a live-action FAMILY GUY cutaway.