I started Solomon Kane with a decidedly negative opinion of James Purefoy. The first twelve to fifteen minutes did nothing to change my mind. Then something happened. The script stopped being so expositive in its dialogue and all of a sudden Purefoy got really good. He kept it up until the end of the film and so did the script (for the most part–when it had problems again, they were of the predictable plotting variety).
I didn’t know where I was going to start with Kane. I thought I might start saying I spent the first eleven minutes ready to turn it off. It looks like, for those eleven minutes, a television movie from the 1990s, only with better CG backdrops. It’s an absurdly bad introduction to a character.
I question a lot of Bassett’s period dialogue but it ceases to matter once he makes it clear he’s making a Western set in 1600s England. It takes about fifteen minutes, maybe ten, because otherwise it could be about Purefoy defending Pete Postlethwaite’s family. But then it becomes a traditional Western.
It’s a problematic traditional Western, of course (Winchester ‘73, say no more), but it’s in a defined genre and it plays a little with setting and adds some zombies and mind-controlled bad guys (being faithful to the spirit of Howard and his ADHD plotting).
I loved Solomon Kane. I hope it rents well enough and Purefoy doesn’t have a real hit they make another (with Bassett back too).
Directed by Michael J. Bassett; screenplay by Bassett, based on a character created by Robert E. Howard; director of photography, Dan Laustsen; edited by Andrew MacRitchie; music by Klaus Badelt; production designer, Ricky Eyres; produced by Paul Berrow, Samual Hadida and Kevan Van Thompson; released by Metropolitan Filmexport.
Starring James Purefoy (Solomon Kane), Max Von Sydow (Josiah Kane), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Meredith), Patrick Hurd-Wood (Samuel), Pete Postlethwaite (William Crowthorn), Alice Krige (Katherine), Jason Flemyng (Malachi), Mackenzie Crook (Father Michael) and Philip Winchester (Telford).