Soulcatcher is a new Polish action thriller film on Netflix that manages to fairly entertain without doing anything unique or unexpected. The plot follows a hardened private military contractor named Kiel as he is tasked with stopping a nefarious technological invention that can turn any human into an aggressive beast. Despite featuring this unreal invention, the film does not delve into it at all, so expectations of science fiction can be left out. While Soulcatcher is a good effort in the action department, the plot and character motivations are not too convincing.
Plot Summary: What is the Film about?
Soulcatcher begins aboard a private vessel on the sea, on which a group of men wait for their destination. Wearing military gear and carrying guns with them, the men are evidently members of a private militia group. Two of these men, Kiel and Piotr, discuss their current mission: the group is traveling to a secluded island, where they have to rescue a woman named Eliza Mazur. This woman had been photographing and documenting the terrible activities of General Yousif Mamadov, a notorious warlord, before being caught and captured. While rescuing Eliza is also part of the operation, the group’s main target is to get hold of the photographs that the woman had taken. Although Kiel and Piotr are brothers, the latter, who is also the leader of this group, refuses to disclose who has given them this rescue operation contract.
Once arriving at the island, the group comes across a pile of human bodies, among which is also the man who was supposed to guide them to the warlord’s camp. Instead, it is a young woman, probably belonging to a native tribe on the island, who shows them the way towards the camp. As the group begins their business, bringing down the guards one by one, they come across Eliza, who still has the photographs she took. But something strange starts to happen at this time, with groups of men and women attacking the group almost as mindlessly as zombies. A major revelation is soon made, as General Mamadov is seen switching on a big ray-emitting device that swiftly turns any human in front of it horribly violent and aggressive. Piotr also, unfortunately, is directly hit by the device’s emission, which turns him violent against his own brother, and Kiel has to kill him in order to save himself. Kiel and his team then manage to get off the island with their pilot friend Krzysztof and the confidential photographs, but Eliza refuses to come along, stating that she has some other plans.
Who is Kiel? What is the Soulcatcher device?
As soon as Kiel and his team return to Poland aboard Krzysztof’s private plane, they are apprehended by Interpol authorities since the recent operation had taken place outside of their country. An agent named Artur starts to interrogate Kiel, and it now seems evident that the authorities are not just concerned with the events at Mamadov’s camp. Kiel’s background is also revealed, as the man had been a distinguished soldier in the Polish Army, having earned multiple accolades as well. After his voluntary discharge from the military, the man started working as a contractor, taking on private missions along with his team.
Agent Artur now reveals his reason for apprehending Kiel, for the Interpol officer is trying to track down the perpetrator of a different crime. Two Polish MPs had been assassinated by a group of ex-soldiers who were also seemingly part of some private militia. Although these assassinations had been officially termed as violent acts originated from PTSD and other mental instability, Artur was certain that there was a more sinister plan behind them. Agent Artur believes that a group in Poland known as the NMP had been behind these assassinations and that it had hired ex-military personnel for the job. He believes that Kiel has also been hired by the same group, and the officer wants to get hold of NMP through our protagonist. Despite stating how the NMP would surely get rid of him like they had killed the other ex-soldiers, Kiel is not convinced, and he just waits to be rescued, knowing well that help is on the way.
Surely enough, help soon arrives, in the form of an influential Polish politician named Jan. Reprimanding Agent Artur for harassing a military veteran, Jan ensures that Kiel and every member of his group are released by the authorities. As is soon revealed, it was Jan who had hired Kiel and Piotr to carry out the operation against Yousif Mamadov after the minister got to know of the warlord’s crimes. Some years ago, a Polish scientist, Witold Mazur, developed an extraordinary device that could apparently heal cancer and be put to use in other medical procedures. However, this device turned out to be something else altogether, as it started turning every human subjected to its powers into extremely aggressive and violent beasts. As soon as warlords in neighboring countries got to know of this new invention, they rushed to get hold of it, and General Yousif Mamadov took hold of it first, along with the creator, Professor Witold Mazur. In its current state, i.e., as a weapon that can turn humans into violent and aggressive zombies, the device is termed the Soulcatcher, by Jan and his men.
Despite some claiming that Witold Mazur was actually innocent and was just being used to turn the machine into a weapon, Jan firmly believes that the doctor is also very much involved in the whole terrorist plan. The woman earlier seen, Eliza Mazur, was actually the professor’s daughter, and she was of the belief that the warlord was keeping her innocent father hostage and making him work against his will. For this reason, Eliza had been gathering information and photographs of Mamadov’s operation in order to attract the attention of the Polish authorities and somehow get her father rescued. It was also to ensure that her father could be saved that Eliza had decided to stay back on the island and had refused to return to her homeland along with Kiel.
At present, Kiel and his team are given the next mission that they must embark on—to infiltrate Mamadov’s camp once again, secure the Soulcatcher device, and kill the scientist Witold Mazur. If they get the opportunity to do so, the team should execute Yousef Mamadov as well, but that is not the priority. Jan states that the Soulcatcher device can still be used for medicinal purposes and to cure cancer if certain attributes are tweaked and changed, and for this reason, he wants the device to be returned to Poland. But keeping the scientist Witold alive would be a big risk, for he could make a similar device again, and for this reason, the man has to be executed. There is also a matter of urgency in this whole operation since Jan’s intel reveals that Mamadov is soon about to sell off the Soulcatcher device to another warlord in Africa in exchange for a high price.
What was Jan’s real motive throughout this time?
Before the operation begins, Kiel first gathers a team of his own, adding on two trusted colleagues, Storm and Bull, along with the old faithful Krzysztof and Harbir. Together with this team, Kiel infiltrates Mamadov’s camp, also with the help of Eliza, whom he meets once again. Eliza had once been an assistant to her father during the development of the Soulcatcher machine, and she is able to convince Kiel that her father was indeed innocent. Instead of blindly following Jan’s orders, Kiel decides to not eliminate Professor Mazur but rescue him instead. This is not very easy to do, though, as the entire camp soon finds out about the presence of the infiltrators, and a major gunfight ensues. At one point, Mamadov switches on the Soulcatcher as well, turning his own warlord client into a monster, and Kiel also gets close to the ray gun’s blast radius. Although the protagonist was not directly subjected to the evil ray, he did have to fight off internal battles against an urge to turn violent and evil.
By the end of the gunfight, the team is successful in securing both Eliza and her father, but they have to give Mamadov a chase as the warlord tries to escape with the device. Ultimately, Kiel is successful in killing Mamadov and getting hold of the Soulcatcher device, which he transports back to Poland. However, back at Jan’s camp, the whole situation turns completely upside down as the politician’s real motive is revealed. Although Soulcatcher sets up this revelation as a major one, this twist in the plot was genuinely too predictable, and it was only a matter of when it would be revealed.
Jan was actually a politician who benefited from fear-mongering. His entire plan of action politically was to convince the common masses about how every other country and region was turning into active war zones and state that Poland, too, would soon turn into such a war-torn place if he was not elected to be the Prime Minister. This plan was already in the works, with his popularity among voters rising, and now the man wanted to ensure that he would most certainly win the elections. With a machine like the Soulcatcher, Jan could turn any individual from any community or nationality into aggressive zombies and then make use of them to further spread his propaganda. It can also be guessed that such a device would also massively help Jan fight against other political rivals, as he could turn them into zombies and then get them officially executed, stating that the rivals had become aggressive and violent.
Now, when Kiel brings the Soulcatcher device and its creator, Professor Mazur, into Jan’s camp, the politician takes custody of both while holding Kiel and his team captive. The Interpol officer, Agent Artur, had been keeping an eye on the politician for all this time, and he now barges into the camp. A gunfight follows, but Kiel and Storm both get badly injured. The rest of their team members have a worse time, though, as Krzysztof and Bull are killed by Jan’s men.
‘Soulcatcher’ Ending Explained: Does Jan Get Away?
Finally working with Interpol, Kiel agrees to one ultimate mission—to infiltrate Jan’s camp and destroy the Soulcatcher device. However, this mission can no longer be a team effort and instead has to be a covert operation in which he alone can take part. Eliza stays back at a safe house, hoping for Kiel’s safe return, as the two have become lovers by now. On the other side, Storm recovers from her injuries but still remains inoperative. Harbir, who had been the only remaining fit member, offers to come along with Kiel and help the man, but the nature of the operation does not allow him to do so.
Kiel successfully infiltrates Jan’s camp, which is filled with private militia, as it becomes clear that the politician is indeed the leader of the earlier-mentioned group, the NMP. The assassinations of the two MPs were also carried out, most possibly because they were political rivals of Jan. After going through the place and finding the Soulcatcher device, Kiel has to face an equally capable foe—Sergeant Damian Prochyra, another veteran soldier who had been working under Jan. Prochyra had accompanied Kiel and his team to Mamadov’s camp too, before turning sides and shooting Krzysztof dead. The two men now have an intense fight, while Professor Mazur realizes that the only way he can make himself useful anymore is by blowing up the group of soldiers heading Kiel’s way, also killing himself in the process. Kiel is finally able to defeat Prochyra, but not before he himself is quite seriously injured.
Although Jan hides away inside his private chambers, he establishes a connection with Kiel, through which the minister boasts about how he cannot be stopped. Jan says that destroying the Soulcatcher will not hurt him anymore since the Polish voters were already convinced of his propaganda and had completely turned in favor of him. However, Kiel had one last ace up his sleeve, as it was revealed that this whole communication was being recorded and relayed back to Agent Artur and his team. With this voice tape essentially acting like a confession, Jan could finally be brought down. Harbir has to rescue Kiel from the camp, but the protagonist remembers to fit the Soulcatcher device with a bomb, therefore ensuring that the weapon is destroyed forever.
The sound recording is released to the public the next morning, and almost immediately, all citizens turn against Jan. With the police raiding his camp and arresting all his men, Jan has no option but to run away, fleeing in his car. However, as he instructs his driver not to take him home yet, the driver looks very much like Bull. Earlier in Soulcatcher, Bull’s property had been set on fire, but the man’s death was never confirmed. Now that the face of the driver is revealed, with evident burn marks, it is most likely Bull who is seen driving Jan away. This confirms that the politician is actually unable to get away and will most definitely be punished. Soulcatcher‘s ending also reveal to us that Kiel and Eliza reunite as lovers, with Harbir proudly looking on.