Daniel Markowicz brings us an action-thriller movie, Soulcatcher, where big guns go off, and action heroes throw haymakers, whereas brunette femme fatales are infallible with large sniper rifles. There’s also a massive laser pointer-like device that fries people’s brains, and the good guys need to snatch it from the bad ones. In theory, we could say the movie has all the makings of an interesting watch, but the 98-minute runtime proves for the umpteenth time that not every good script translates to a good movie. Starring Piotr Witkowski, Jacek Koman, Jacek Poniedzialek, and Aleskandra Adamska, among others, Soulcatcher pulls out all the stops in the explosions and character designs, but a poorly formulated plot and a severely predictable course of the action draw out all the fun it could’ve offered. Here’s a comprehensive review of Soulcatcher for you to decide whether this Polish action thriller is up your alley or not.
Mild Spoilers Ahead
What Is The Movie About?
Hired mercenaries Kiel, aka Fang, Piotr, Seba, and Harbir, charter a boat to an island where they need to gather photos from a journalist named Eliza Mazur about an experiment an evil general is conducting. The men are quickly able to extract Eliza, but problems begin when the unarmed people who were lying on the ground suddenly become feral and begin attacking the rescuers. The mercenaries are able to kill the attackers, but when a screeching device fires up, two of the teammates start acting erratically. Piotr, the brother of Fang, turns wild and attacks his brother, forcing Fang to stab his brother without a choice. Elsewhere, Seba is afflicted because of the device and turns feral, but he’s shot down by General Mammadov’s men. Fang and Harbir escape on their friend Krystof’s plane with the pictures from Eliza while she stays back.
Back home, the men are quickly arrested and interrogated by Interpol before Minister Jan arrives to free them. He briefs the men about the mission and that the device responsible for turning Piotr, Seba, and all the other people feral is named Soulcatcher, and it can fry someone’s brains to the point that they’re just filled with boiling rage until they’re killed. Although created for medicinal uses, apparently, Professor Witold Mazur, Eliza’s father, turned rogue and used it to kill his crew before joining hands with Mammadov. Fang’s mission is to retrieve the Soulcatcher and kill the professor, although Mammadov himself is not the priority. Jan says that if the Soulcatcher is tweaked, it can once again save lives by curing cancer, which is the purpose it was made for. He also gives the crew two of his own men and provides ammunition and planes. The biggest catch is trying to sabotage a sale that’s about to go down because Mammadov aims to sell the device to an African warlord who’s on his way to the island.
Kiel visits his old friends Storm and Bull, and together with Krystof and Harbir, they have a rave party to drink the sadness away over losing Piotr. When they return to the mission, it’s revealed that Eliza is trying to save her father, and Kiel and Harbir sneak inside the facility and are first-hand witnesses to the fact that the professor is being held hostage by Mammadov. When the African warlord arrives, the General forces the professor to use his device on some innocent captives, who start killing each other inside a cage they’ve been locked in. Soon, things get out of hand, and bullets start flying as Mammadov decides to cheat the warlord and escape with the device as well as the briefcase full of cash. Fang and the warlord are struck by a minuscule percentage of the Soulcatcher’s blast, and Kiel’s brain isn’t totally fried. However, he manages to kill his opponent. Finally, With the device secured and both the professor and his daughter safe, it’s time to return to base, but Kiel suggests sending Eliza with Harbir because she might be arrested with the professor the moment she sets foot in Poland. The plot seems over, but there are about 40 minutes of the runtime left, so we all know what’s about to happen next.
Like clockwork, Jan betrays Kiel and takes the weapon for himself because he seeks unbridled power. Both Storm and Fang are shot, while Bull and Krystof are killed. It’s thanks to the Interpol agent who shows up and saves the two, as Jan uses the Soulcatcher to create a situation of panic in the country and rally support in his favor. Now it’s up to Kiel, who needs to go into the top-secret facility to destroy the machine and ensure that the world knows Jan’s reality. He’s running for President at the moment, posing as the nation’s savior. Will Kiel be able to save the country from the ‘fangs’ of this corrupt politician who can do anything for power? Well, you can guess what happens anyway.
Even the most adrenaline-pumped action movies need to have a plot, and the lead hero needs to be able to act so that the audience gets to witness a little more than a shower of bullets. Even the most impactful action movies, where blood, bombs, and bullets form the central point, such as Taken or John Rambo, have had protagonists who used their faces to act when they didn’t have a gun in hand. However, the lead actor for Soulcatcher misses that point completely and just proceeds to smolder in the distance, and the director greenlights that as sufficient expression. The net result is that the protagonist comes off as a cardboard hero with a buffed body who can throw punches, and that’s mostly it.
Most of the viewers prefer to switch the audio to any language they’d prefer, be it English, Spanish, or even German, as Polish isn’t the most kind on the ears. However, the dubbing fails disastrously, as it’s filled with cliched lines that make even the most serious moments sound ridiculous. Poor dubbing in English and an even more awful soundtrack make for a very unpleasant experience for the ears, and it’s best recommended not to use earphones for this movie.
Finally, we can’t leave without mentioning the plot. You know a plot is predictable when the biggest fight happens within the first 40 minutes, and the hero comes home safe and sound. Anyone could tell that Jan was corrupted by the fact that he wanted such a disastrous weapon to be brought back for beneficiary purposes while asking the only man who could make such changes to be killed. The paper-thin plot and the comical villains, be it the smiley-faced General Mammadov with his cartoonish mustache or the unnaturally buffed African warlord, point towards a simple fact. Having a big budget doesn’t automatically translate to a good movie. There have been quite a few films on the concept where some stimuli change people into raging maniacs, including the Spanish horror thriller Virus: 32, but none of them have paid attention to why the rage occurs because it’d need a little more directive talent than the current filmmakers possess. In recent times, a lot of Polish movies have made it to Netflix, but there has seldom been one that makes the audience think in retrospect, and that stays with the audience hours after it’s over. Perhaps the race for commercial success has won over the need to produce movies, which used to be intellectual food for proper cinephiles.
Perhaps the only good thing about Soulcatcher is the character of Harbir, played by Vansh Luthra, but we can chalk it up to me playing favoritism because he’s of Indian origin.