James Purefoy (Rome) stars as the pulp character Solomon Kane: a hitherto immoral avaricious pilferer. Kane, after learning he has doomed his soul through his evil deeds, reforms himself as a ‘man of peace’. Yet, with England being taken over by a minion of the devil himself, Kane is compelled to return to his violent ways.
Solomon Kane could and should have been an enjoyable film despite, or perhaps due to, its entirely frivolous and superfluous nature; and yet, the film takes itself far too seriously. Such a film in order to succeed should be aware of its limitations inside genre expectations, yet Solomon Kane attempts to transcend its pulp origins, and falls flat as a result. This kind of film can be successful and has been previously: Highlander erred on the right side of mock-seriousness, always remaining self-knowingly trashy, and it is in the failure to realise this that Solomon Kane‘s real fault lies, it tries far too hard to be what it cannot.
The film is poorly paced, hurtling along in places, whilst seemingly filled with inertia in others; the film takes almost an hour to set up, yet the final set-piece is wrapped up within five minutes, creating a decidedly unbalanced film. The action sequences, in turn, are clunky and badly shot, and the sheer number of such scenes means that they quickly feel tiresome and stale, with the final payoff feeling distinctly lacklustre as a direct result. Aside from these intial issues of poor pacing and poorly choreographed action sequences, Kane is quite simply appallingly scripted, and with laughable dialogue from the outset it’s difficult to ever truly engage with the film.
Jame Purefoy does his best as the eternally conflicted Solomon, yet in reality the role of Kane requires very little. Perhaps more surprising is the appearance of Pete Postlethwaite, who is far too skilled an actor to appear in such a poor and mediocre film. And as can be expected from such an aggressively ‘macho’ film, the women are reduced to three hugely simplistic characters; a witch, a mother and a daughter, surely a regression in the light of recent female action roles. Ultimately Solomon Kane fails to entertain on any base level, whilst failing to fulfil any function of its genre. It is neither enjoyable, nor engaging, and may well have already received the dubious accolade of worst film of 2010.