In the 1600s, Kane (James Purefoy) is the perfect medieval Han Solo: a dingy mercenary/captain, duel wielding his blades, loot castles and kill whoever he wants. When he leads his men to a castle off the coast of North Africa, things take a turn for the demonic when his crew are ambushed by a row of mirrors, with demons inside. It turns out Kane’s luck and greed are mainly due to an unknown deal with the Devil, and he’s sent a reaper to collect. Kane narrowly escapes and begins a long rehabilitation--complete with tattooing his entire body in symbols--to avoid losing his soul. He joins up with a family of Puritans on the way to America. While it seems like he’s finally found peace, it is quickly shattered after a brief run-in with a witch seems to prompt the Sorcerer Malachi (Jason Flemyng) to enter the fold. His horde, lead by the credited Overlord, find and kill the entire family except for Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood). Kane stumbles, but ultimately gathers his wits (and quite randomly at an Inn, his old crew) and sets out to save her once again.
Malachi’s forces come from the Overlord branding an unlucky victim with his hands that morphs them all into a legion of bald, savage monsters. Max von Sydow appears for two brief moments as Josiah Kane to provide exposition for why Kane initially left and then why his father happens to be in Malachi’s dungeon. For all the screaming and sword fighting you could assume, Solomon Kane is rather light on it despite aping a concept from 2004’s Van Helsing or last year’s Season of the Witch. Purefoy is given a startling amount of time to brood and grimace as if he were trying to channel his inner Hugh Jackman but can’t quite get it. Yet put a sword (or two!) in his hands and it’s like watching his performance as Marc Antony from the Rome. He’s a strong, growling lead and clearly built to carry this film, but whether it wants to live as a drama or fantasy is a tough sell.