Unfortunately, post credits the film takes a severe downturn. To
avoid his infernal fate, Kane has renounced violence and found God. He’s also become one of the most tedious characters ever committed to celluloid.
For the next ninety minutes Kane mopes around a fictionalised England, where towns are adorned with hanged corpses, and witch-burnings are a fun spectator sport. This basic idea could actually have worked, even taking into account the fact that the baddies are essentially cast-offs from Lord of the Rings, but writer/director, Michael J Bassett, has stripped the film of any real passion.
Instead the picture is monotonous, and just as it seems to find its feet, and feel like the fun action romp it should have been, it stumbles and becomes dreary and dull.
Much of this is a product of the film being yet another origin story. By insisting on explaining every trait the character has, it gets bogged down in its own mythology, and loses much of its narrative thrust.
At 104 minutes the film has ample time to tie up loose ends, or at the very least, make sense. It fails to do so. There’s no real explanation why Kane is condemned to hell, and there are several story threads that need a justification, and fail to find one. Instead, Bassett fills the movie with countless ‘cool’ action shots that serve absolutely no purpose, and in many cases disrupt the story telling. If he were making a standard, dumb action movie, this wouldn’t be a problem, but in trying to be more, Solomon Kane draws attention to these failings.
In addition to this, Purefoy is criminally misused. He is by far one of the most charismatic actors working today, and ordinarily he’s an absolute joy to watch. As Marc Anthony, he was the best thing in Rome, and in the BBC mini-series Beau Brummell: This Charming Man and Blackbeard: Terror at Sea he showed quite clearly that he’s a top-notch leading man. The film could have been vastly improved by allowing him to use his natural charm, but instead he’s hemmed in at every turn.
With a more commercially-minded director Solomon Kane could have been an enjoyable action movie, in the vein of Willow. As it stands, it’s an absolute dirge. That said, as bad as this film is, it picks up a little towards the end, as Kane finds himself, and Purefoy is finally allowed to make the character his own. It’s a real shame that the filmmakers didn’t have the confidence to start at this point, as it would certainly have allowed them to tell a more exciting story.