Starring: James Purefoy, Jason Flemyng, Rachel Hurd Wood, Pete Postlethwaite
Director: Michael J. Bassett
Writer(s): Michael J. Bassett, Robert E. Howard (novels)
Cinematography: Dan Laustsen
Original Score: Klaus Badelt
Running Time: 104 Mins.
A badass action hero thrust into a medieval world of swords and sorcery, fighting to defeat the agents of the devil himself, there’s nothing new to be found in Solomon Kane, but it sure is told with enough spark and, most importantly, an overwhelming sense of fun, that you can’t help but be swept along with it. In fact the only unique aspect about Kane may well be his often unintentionally hilarious West Country accent, imagine the hero spouting such corkers such as, “if I kill you. I am bound for hell. It is a price I will gladly pay.” like a west country farmer and tell me it doesn’t raise a snigger!
But it is in this sense of fun to be poked at Solomon Kane that it finds its strength, some may be intentional most of it, I couldn’t help thinking, isn’t. But thankfully that doesn’t detract form the experience of watching innumerable sword-fights taking place in the grimiest depiction of a medievil land since Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings plundered many a muddy castle. Mud glorious mud, and indeed blood glorious blood, lashings of both are present and correct and the camera doesn’t shy away from the more gruesome acts of a fight, heck Kane takes three swipes at a man’s head at one stage to off it, and revels in the brutality of the time and place, very few are left alive, good and bad alike, meaning a potentially predictable plot is lent a little spontaneity.
The real star here though is Kane himself, long overdue a starring role James Purefoy looks set to become Hollywood’s answer to a middle-ages Jason Statham between this and the forth-coming Ironclad, which looks similarly grimy and bloody. Purefoy has a great charisma and carries the one liners with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that suggests he understands his iconic character (he is based upon the novels of author Robert E. Howard, he behind Conan) well enough to make him more than just a two-dimensional brute on the road to redemption, or not, as the case may be!
But if Purefoy’s Kane remains rounded the script lends little of the same depth to anybody else, yes this is Kane’s story but when he is surrounded by such wafer thin adversaries and cohorts its difficult to find more than a passing interest in the plot outside of the literal swords and sorcery. Villains are face-less (literally in some cases) brutes of all shapes and sizes given no more characterisation than their scars and distinguishing facial hair and the uber-villains are drawn out in stages like the most feeble of computer games, Kane rises through the ranks while trying to save a damsel in distress, from masked “lead” goon with a link to his own past, to the sorcerer, to the fiery demon from hell final-boss, that bears a little more than a passing likeness to the Balrog!
It’s a great shame that the films most ingenious use of creatures is pre-credits where a tone, and creature design, akin to those of Guillermo Del Toro, is used to great effect with mirrors and a prize that suggests a possible prequel that would be more like Indiana Jones and the Bloody Muddy Middle Ages, than the sequel promised in the close, sod the damsel in distress and fiery sub-par Balrog’s, and give me Solomon Kane, treasure seeker and badass demon botherer any-day!
Ensure tongue is placed firmly in cheek and Solomon Kane is a hoot from start to finish, though largely due to a thoroughly game turn from the long overdue star-in-the making Purefoy, give this man, and indeed character, something a little less…hackeneyed, and we might just have a truly great film to look forward to next time rather than an enjoyably shallow big(gish) budget computer game brough to life!