Solace (and five of the best movie psychics)
For one reason or another, there are some films that just take a very long time to get made. In the case of Solace, the latest film from Brazilian director Afonso Poyart, the 15-year journey from conception to completion will finally reach its conclusion when the film arrives in stores on Monday (January 11th).
Based on a story originally by Ted Griffin, a man whose screenwriting credits include Ocean's Eleven and Matchstick Men, Solace's story of a former police doctor with psychic abilities was, at one point early in its considerable life cycle, re-written at the behest of New Line Cinema with the intention of using the film's plot as the centrepiece for a sequel to David Fincher's excellent 1995 crime thriller Se7en. However, the studio eventually decided against the idea of squeezing Morgan Freeman's detective William Somerset into the script and plans for a sequel were subsequently dropped.
Since then, the script has reportedly been revisited by numerous writers including Jamie Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man) and Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scotland) before getting a final draft from Disney's Sean Bailey. Throw in a cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Abbie Cornish, Colin Farrell and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as well as a soundtrack by BT, and suddenly we're talking about a film with some intriguing pedigree.
So, having been manhandled by the great and good of Hollywood's writing talent, the story goes something like this: former police doctor and psychic John Clancy (Hopkins) is coaxed out of retirement by his former colleague Joe Merriweather (Morgan) to help with a case involving a series of murders that the FBI believe are the work of a serial killer. Despite scepticism from Merriweather's fellow agent Katherine Cowles (Cornish), Clancy is able to use his psychic abilities to deduce that the man they are looking for will prove very difficult to catch, since he is someone who possesses similar powers to his own, only far more advanced.
The killer in question is a man named Charles Ambrose (Farrell) who, like Clancy, is blessed with an ability to see the future, which makes him near-impossible to catch since he always knows when and where the Feds will attempt to bust him. However, the film takes an intriguing turn when Ambrose and Clancy come face to face and Clancy learns that Ambrose's motives for the killings are not quite what they seem to be.
To say more would be to reveal spoilers, but if you're a fan of serial killer movies in general this offers something a little different. You can find the trailer below, beneath that we've picked out five of the best fictional psychics ever to appear on the big screen.
Johnny Smith (The Dead Zone)
Probably one of the closest comparisons you could make with John Clancy, The Dead Zone's Johnny Smith, played by Christopher Walken, is a schoolteacher who wakes from a five-year coma following a car accident to discover he has developed the ability to see people's past, present and future when he makes physical contact with them. When he meets a politician, he envisions a future in which the man is president and triggers a nuclear holocaust by ordering a missile strike on Russia and must decide whether to kill him to save humanity. Adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name by David Cronenberg – a nightmarish pairing if ever there was one – this is a straight-up cult classic and Walken is predictably superb.
Charles Xavier (The X-Men)
With X-Men now one of the biggest film franchises around, it would be remiss to have a list of movie psychics without including the most famous of them all, Charles Xavier. Making his first appearance in comic book form in 1963, 'Professor X' has been portrayed on the big screen by two brilliant actors in Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy and with X-Men: Apocalypse arriving later this year there's plenty more to come from the world's coolest telepath.
Tangina Barrons (Poltergeist)
The original version of Poltergeist just wouldn't have been the same film without Tangina, the sassy old psychic who holds the key to the Freeling family getting their daughter back from the spirit world. Played by the late Zelda Rubenstein, Tangina may not be the most physically imposing character, but from the moment she enters the house with her "Y'all are jamming my frequencies” patter, you know straight away who's boss.
Lyn Cassidy (The Men Who Stare At Goats)
This brilliant comedy from director Grant Heslov stars Ewan McGregor as a journalist Bob Wilton who is dispatched to investigate a story about a U.S. Military programme to train 'psychic soldiers', and the programme's leading student, Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney). Loosely based on elements from the book of the same name by Jon Ronson, the film frames Cassidy in a state of permanent doubt; for much of the film, Wilton – and the viewer – is never really sure whether to believe in Cassidy's psychic abilities, or whether Cassidy is deluded, but Clooney is excellent and is supported by an equally superb cast that includes Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. He may not or may not be the most gifted psychic on our list, but he's certainly the funniest.
Daryl Revok (Scanners)
Our final pick is a character from another David Cronenberg film Scanners which, in Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), features one of the most terrifying psychics ever committed to celluloid. Blessed with the ability to take control of the minds of others and hell-bent on creating an empire of similar psychics, Revok is pure evil and Ironside plays the part perfectly. If proof were needed, you only need check out the trailer below (not for the faint-hearted).