Solomon Kane (2009)

Solomon Kane is tremendous fun. It’s about as cerebrally challenging as Saturday morning television, but it never tries to be anything but a great, violent, insane adventure, and it succeeds admirably.

Solomon Kane is an evil man. He murders without thought – for profit, for vengeance, for fun – and he’s damn good at it. It is 17th Century England, and he realizes something that changes his existence forever – Satan wants his soul. Renouncing violence forever, Kane becomes a Puritan, knowing that if he ever kills again that Satan would find him instantly. At first, this seems a feasible thing for Kane to do, but when a mystical evil spreads throughout the land, he is forced into taking up arms and damning his soul forever – for a promise, for good, for redemption.

This storyline might sound a little trite, but it’s well executed. Kane befriends a loving family, but when they’re attacked and their daughter (Rachel Hurd-Wood) is kidnapped, it becomes Kane’s mission to rescue her from the horde of possessed bald-headed psychopaths roaming the land and enslaving the weak. There is an eye-burning witch, a mask-wearing magic brute, an army of black-eyed bastards and a completely insane finale involving Jason Flemyng and a giant beast. It’s over-the-top, but well constructed and enjoyable throughout.

It is James Purefoy’s take on Solomon Kane that holds the film together though, and it’s a solid, believable central performance. The smaller characters do not particularly shine and are merely functional, with Pete Postletwaite doing a decent job of being Pete Postletwaite and Kane’s arch nemesis Malachi only appearing at the very end, but this is not detrimental to the story. It’s got a solid pace and it’s gleefully violent – swords, axes, monsters, child-killing, crucifixion, magic, madness and monks – Solomon Kane has a lot to offer.

Solomon Kane is based on the graphic novels of Robert E Howard, creator of the Conan series, originally published in the Weird Tales magazine and first appearing in 1928. The adaptation has been reasonably faithful, keeping the wild mix of violence, magic and redemption, and still has a lot of potential for further “volumes”.

There is the occasional scene that grates in Solomon Kane – like a church / Mackenzie Crook / zombies sub-plot that seems pointlessly shoe-horned in for literally no reason, and also Kane’s hilarious “sneak entrance” into a castle that actually takes him to a courtyard in front of the castle entrance… only to be assaulted by hundreds of guards. It’s silly, but then Solomon Kane features a witch who turns into crows, creatures in mirrors and the devil’s reaper who wields a giant flaming sword – it’s not supposed to be hugely sensible…

Solomon Kane is great fun. It is solid entertainment that is nasty, stylish, a bit stupid, occasionally laughable but immensely enjoyable. If you can look past the wild premise and crazy magical elements then it’s a sword-swinging brutal thrill-ride, but if you find the whole idea a little absurd then you best avoid this forever.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

2 Comments on “Solomon Kane”

  1. Blue Tyson says:

    I am quite sure they didn’t have graphic novels in 1928. ;-)

    • admin says:

      Not strictly speaking, no. The term ‘graphic novel’ didn’t come into use until 1976 but there were publications from the turn of the century that can be arguably considered to be the first graphic novels :)

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.