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December 29, 2016
By Cailey Gleeson
Despite being filmed in 2014, it took ‘Solace’ two years to be released in theatres and the cinematic masterpiece was well worth the wait. The film is full of plot twists that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats―especially because none of the protagonists are safe from the murderous Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell).
‘Solace’ opens with FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) in the midst of investigating a peculiar crime scene. It’s the third murder of a similar manner, yet there’s no indication of the identity of the killer―that’s where retired psychic Dr. John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins) comes in.
Clancy is an old friend of Merriwether, as he was a frequent consultant for the FBI on seemingly futile cases in the past. Haunted by the death of his daughter two years prior, Clancy is initially unwilling to come out of his self-induced isolation to aid in the investigation; however, he changes his mind after visions of the Clowes’s impending death, especially because of an unforeseen ailment that the agent is suffering from.
Actually, Clancy has obscure―yet brutal―visions about the deaths of both agents. Unfortunately, his vision about Merriwether’s death comes true as the film progresses. In all honesty, Merriwether’s death was quite disappointing due to the combination of Morgan’s impeccable acting and overall significance of the character to the film. If Merriwether “had” to die, it would’ve been much more dramatic if he was killed in the final altercation between Ambrose and Clancy at the end of the film.
Before Merriwether’s death, the trio of investigators make significant progress into their case of the mysterious murders. Despite differences in virtually all characteristics, the detectives discover that all of the victims were slowly dying of terminal―yet undiscovered―illnesses. So, how did Ambrose know about their undiagnosed illnesses?
“He’s just like me,” Clancy says. “He sees things, only he’s a lot better at it.”
That’s right. Not only is Ambrose a “mercy” killer, but he’s also a psychic killer―that’s way ahead of investigators. As chilling as the revelation was, it was a bit late in the film. It was almost ironic that Clancy didn’t immediately disclose the information to Merriwether―especially after Ambrose leaves a note with the exact time that police arrived at the scene of a crime.
This revelation leads to several awkward encounters between Ambrose and Clancy that are borderline cliché, but are still essential to the development of the plot. In these exchanges, Ambrose further explains his motives in an attempt to justify his actions and reveals that he has essentially planned out the duration of the investigation.
As awkward as these interactions are, an aura of comedy surrounds them―especially when Clancy hits Ambrose over the head with an ashtray in a scolding manner instead of signaling officers to arrest him in a crowded bar.
It’s not until the final altercation between the two psychics that any real action occurs. Clancy follows Ambrose to a crowded train car after thwarting the murder of a young businessman. Clowes, still desperate to avenge Merriwether’s death, rushes to the station despite warnings from Ambrose himself via a pre-recorded video that she will not survive if she pursues him.
Ambrose seems desperate for Clancy to kill him because he no longer wants to serve as an angel of death to unknowing victims. The killer’s last vision doesn’t come true, as Clancy takes a bullet meant to be fatal for Clowes as she rushes the train car.
In what may be the most shocking scene in the film, one of the final shots reveals that Clancy killed his daughter while she was dying of leukemia in an act of mercy, hence why Ambrose compared himself to Clancy moments before his death.
3.5 out of 4 stars.
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