Soul of Steel (CRITIQUE REVIEW​)

 Soul of steel sets a tone somewhere between a noir thriller and a horror film.  At the beginning of the film, we a gun being loaded, and a priest adorning himself with a crucifix as if preparing to head into battle, a preparation scene similar to the one in the Exorcist as it’s two leads head in to Reagan McNeil’s bedroom to begin their ritual.  The opening scene after these two tone setting inserts is a man running into a church with a pistol held high and cocked, aimed directly at the priest who is down in front of the alter.  “Help me!”, he screams.  The priest is cool and unaffected by this, agreeing to help the man.  Just then, the church doors swing open again for a second time and another man runs through, this one in the plaid suit and hat that tell us he’s some type of law enforcement or something very closely related.  He too is brandishing a gun, but his is leveled at the first man.  The priest objects to this and yells to the man with the hat not to shoot, that the man on the ground needs help.  The man in the hat disagrees with this assessment, but lowers his weapon as the three characters converge at the front of the church and the first man, who has now crumpled to the ground without lowering his pistol, begins to tell his story. 

            The man in the hat is named Santiago Luna, and he is private detective.  His first encountered the mystery man previously that evening when he came into his office much as he has approached the priest, pointing the gun and asking Luna for his help.  He tells him about how he had found the pistol in a bag next to a car in an alley several nights before, and since then it has taken a hold over him, causing him a desire to kill, and changing his behavior, to seemingly act against his will.  In this flashback within a flashback, we see the man walking happily with his fiancé before the discovery of the gun, the two kiss and part for the evening.  The next, after the discovery of the weapon, he wakes with it by his bedside and finds that it has drug a red groove into his hand where he has been squeezing it tightly.  He’s unable to part with it after this, rarely letting it leave his hand and randomly pointing it at his own head when he steps in front of a mirror.  Later on he goes to dinner and meets with his fiancé, who wants to discuss the details of their upcoming wedding.  His eyes wander around the restaurant as he has an experience of everyone around staring at him intently.  This sends him over the top, and with a burst of anger he ends the relationship with her and storms outside, where he levels the gun on a homeless man and nearly pulls the trigger, just barely restraining himself. 

            Not long after this is when he first encountered Luna.  After this wild story and ramblings about needing to kill, but first needing to select the right victim, Luna is set on stopping the man.  He ends their appointment by making a decision, saying “it has to be her!” as he runs from the room.  Luna discretely follows as the man goes to a parking garage, where his former fiancé is walking to her car.  He puts her in the crosshairs just as Luna steps out and gets his gun on the man.  Both fire their weapons.  The man’s fiancé is killed, and the man is wounded, but able to run from the garage and out into the night.  This brings full circle back to where the story started in the church.  After completing his tale, the man dies and the priest removes the pistol from his hands.  Luna doesn’t believe any of the man’s claims about being under the influence of the gun, and thinks the whole detour to the church was an attempt to set up an insanity plea for an upcoming trial.  The priest believes the story whole heartedly, though, and insists that Luna thrown the gun into the river.

            In a final moment, we see the bullet in the man’s fiancé turn into a CGI spider and leave her skull, growing into a pistol as it travels, then finally a pistol in a bag in front of a motorcycle, waiting for the next person it can take possession of.  Nothing seems to have led up to this particular ending, and we hoped for something more revealing about the characters and their completely irrational behavior, with or without an evil entity possessing them.  The film is very sleek and good looking, and fairly competently put together with ominous shadows and doom laden music.  This disjointed story though, hasn’t quite found much to hold it together despite throwing out a lot of ideas about the allure of violence and nature of good and evil.  It’s nice for the eyes, but the repetitive scenarios and underwritten characters make it a bit dull.

 

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