*NEW* SOLACE REVIEW *NEW*

Anthony-Hopkins-Solace

Solazzzzzzze?

A strange premise and two talented leads reprieve a generic by the numbers crime thriller.

A psychic (Anthony Hopkins) works with the FBI in order to hunt down a serial killer (Colin Farrell).

A watchable mess. A mind numbing opener didn’t get things going for me. It certainly didn’t help with Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s droll delivery. We had to drudge through mindless CSI exposition while we waited for Hopkins’ Clancy to come out of retirement.

Hopkins’ performance certainly lifted a lead script. His character John Clancy definitely got things going. An old man wallowing in his own exile. It picked up when we were finally able to delve into his past and, more importantly, his ability.

As soon as Agent Cowles’ (Abbie Cornish) hand brushed Hannibal’s (Sorry, John) shoulder, a quick flash (and jump from yours truly) and we see her pretty blond head covered in blood. Different. And a little creepy.

The case itself, on the other hand, for the first half hour was very dull. Formulaic and uninteresting with a number of unmemorable red herrings. Kenny Johnson (The Shield) was terrible as a sexually confused murder suspect.

It was very patchy. Cornish and Morgan did their best with their characters but they were oh so boring and clichéd. Cornish’s character did get better when her fractious relationship with John gelled. The pretentious therapist sparring with the ageing psychic was always going to be ripe for a little friction. The occasional quip and one liner livened up a few scenes.

Brendan Galvin’s cinematography was fantastic. Sweeping shots and overhead camera angles really made this stuttering effort worth looking at. The musical score, on the other hand, was incredibly OTT. It hammed up some of the better moments. If anything it felt like the composer had leant on the volume control panel.

The haunting visions and creepy little messages from Farrell’s killer certainly broke up the case. The idea that they were chasing a killer who was always one step ahead was interesting. And Hopkins’ future flashes delivered some little shocks. BUT the visions and cryptic images soon got repetitive very quickly. Especially all the snippets with Cornish and Morgan.

For all the mystery around Hopkin’s character, it was hardly a surprise when the truth was revealed. In fact it was quite predictable. It also took over an hour before Farrell and Hopkins’ characters met. BUT when they did, it was worth the wait. Almost.

The two psychics walk into a bar stand off was a cheeky little nod to Heat. They were brilliant together. It brought a much needed tension and urgency that the film desperately lacked. Farrell’s performances of late have excelled. If it wasn’t for him in True Detective, I don’t think I would have bothered.

The closing 30 minutes delivered. It was everything I expected from the get go. It was action packed, tense and suspenseful. I just wish Farrell was brought into the mix sooner. I’m happy to persevere with a slow burner BUT the characters or the story have to offer something.

Farrell’s MO sparked an interesting moral debate without going into further detail. The cat and mouse stuff was brilliant. I loved the personal video addressed to Cornish’s character. Farrell watching her every move. Even though it’s only a recording. Creepy. And the notes left with exact times of arrival was mental.

I really wish more was made of that. The psychic stuff was it’s unique selling point and the redeeming feature. The cliched cop stuff should have been thrown on the back burner.

It wasn’t a complete write off by any means. In fact, it was quite watchable. It’s solace being two stand out performances from two talented actors.

But tragically it just wasn’t enough.

2.5/5

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RIDE ALONG REVIEW

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Chug along? Cube and Hart make a cracking good duo. Fun enough BUT will it compare to the relentless list of cop comedies?

Security guard Ben (Kevin Hart) must prove himself to his girlfriend’s brother, top cop James (Ice Cube). He rides along with James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta.

A mixed bag. It all starts off very predictable, formulaic and unfunny with a deal gone wrong, an inevitable car chase and Cube tearing the place up. He played the straight faced Payton perfectly. BUT beneath the bravado there wasn’t much to his character.

A groggy start (with a feeble story line about infiltrating a crime ring and a rat in the office) is given a fresh boost when Hart is thrown into the mix. His military style precision on a Call of Duty style video game under the alias Black Hammer had me in stitches alone. I’ve been a fan of Hart for some time ever since the Scary Movie films. It’s great to see how far the little man’s gone.

He pretty much steals the show. His verbal diarrhea and high pitched screeching can get a little irritating. Inevitably, it took a little while for Ben and Payton to warm up to one another and the gags were few and far between. I could feel my excitement dropping quicker than Cube busting out a fresh freestyle.

Once the pair got going (Luckily) so did the film. There was a fantastic scene at the shooting range in which Hart is trying to show off. His feeble attempt blowing up in his face . . . literally. They did their best and it’s not a complete write-off. Hart upsetting a biker gang and picking a fight with a child. Brilliant.

Being held up in a warehouse in a battle of wits. Done to death. They had a nice angle with the Training Day parody but never really took full advantage of it. Maybe the 12A rating softened it all up but more could have been made. Hart being thrown about was only funny up to a point. He’s little. We get it. It got a chuckle. BUT doing it several more times? Come on now.

I liked the chemistry between Hart and Tika Sumpter (Salt). I would have been happy to see a little more of that than Cube’s stone cold expressions. Pardon the expression. BUT it was great seeing Cube keeping it dead pan with Hart coming out with all sorts of crazy stuff. Brilliant.

I was surprised to see the likes of John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne in this BUT they struggled to make a real impression with their dull and unmemorable characters. And that’s part of the problem. The terrible plot about a generic arms deal with the “surprise” twist being some predictable double crossing stretched the film out. It left little opportunities for gags and wasted a good cast.

When it was funny, it was on fire but when it’s wasn’t, it was slow and repetitive. Less Ride Along and more chug along. Hart was the man. I just wish he’d had better material. It did just enough. But if you’re looking for a consistently laugh out cop comedy, check out The Heat.

Cube and Hart did their best. And it did enough to get me excited for the upcoming sequel. Let’s hope they make amends with more gags or a better plot. If you’re up for a laugh, give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

3/5 (Just)