When a group of strangers at a dusty roadside diner come under attack by demonic forces, their only chance for survival lies with an archangel named Michael, who informs a pregnant waitress that her unborn child is humanity's last hope.
Charles S. Dutton
In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind.
PRIEST, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, is set in an alternate world -- one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on a quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend, a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess who possesses otherworldly fighting skills. Written by
Visual effects developer-turned-director, Scott Stewart, delivers his second supernatural action film that claims to be "adapted" from the comic book "Priest". Supposedly based on a Korean comic or "manhwa" of same name, the movie "Priest" has NOTHING to do with the original, not even the name of the squinting "strong silent type" main protagonist played by Paul Bettany. Fallen angels, deal with a demon, multiple time frame story lines and all other interesting elements of the original be damned. And perhaps it was for the better since the manhwa's multiple story lines taking place in the Crusades, the old west and the future would just confuse the heck out of everyone.
So they crafted a whole new premise to appeal to the superficial summer action lover. And the one thing they did right was to give us vampires that do not sparkle in the sunlight. These vampires are all teeth and claws who swarm across the world at night attacking from giant hives, a clear reference to the "Aliens" franchise. These savage beasts have been at constant war with mankind since the dawn of time. A beautifully bloody animated prologue sets the back-story of the film about how mankind's salvation came in the form of the Priests, holy warriors who battled the vampire hordes to near extinction.
This story revolves around one of the veteran priests who lives among the other downtrodden human inhabitants of a walled dystopian city ruled by the now totalitarian church. When he receives word that his niece was abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, the priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out of the city and rescue her. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend, a young trigger-finger wasteland sheriff. But as the duo soon discover, reports of the vampires' return have been greatly understated. With a powerful yet familiar threat is leading the newly reformed vampire hordes, the wayward Priest and his companion must fend off supernatural foes and contend with a group of fellow Priests sent to hunt down their rogue brother.
"Priest" is one cliché storm of a film that commits the cardinal sins of a paper thin plot and forgettable characters thanks to the inexperience of first time writer Cory Goodman. The characters are so forgettable that the writer never even bothered to give many of them names. Paul Bettany's main character is just called "Priest" (It is not his name by the way). There is also "Black Hat" (because he wears a black hat) and "The Priestess" (because she is a female priest) just to name a few. They are less like actual characters and more like blank character archetypes thrown in for plot convenience. Archetypes like Cam Gigandet's hot headed Sheriff Hicks (a second reference to Aliens perhaps?) and Lily Collin's damsel in distress Lucy are just as forgettable even though they do have names.
Failing to provide interesting characters or a good story, the least the producers could do was to deliver a holy hell load of violence with a hard R or M18 rating. Sadly the animated prologue has more blood and guts than the entire film combined since most of the gorier battles take place in darkness or amid dust. The Fights are well choreographed but they tend to be more stylish than practical and sometimes border on illogical. For example, a duel on a high speed train is awesome but none of the combatants ever thought of kicking his opponent off the side? But despite these failings of the flesh, some salvation comes to "Priest" in the form of an excellent production design. From the dark cyberpunk inspired Church city to the post apocalyptic western towns dotting the hostile desert lands, great attention had been paid to make those places as believable as possible. Perhaps most memorable would be the tech on display in the film which includes futuristic motorcycles, tricked out shotguns and the Priests' arsenal of deadly cross-themed blade weapons.
Beyond the props, flawless visual effects and startling CGI, the movie tries as well to inject its narrative with deeper subtexts. The Priests themselves call to mind stories of War veterans who were shunned by society and unable to re-integrate, a theme made most famous in "Rambo: First Blood". The film also makes fun of how some churches twist their religion into a means of control, the hypocritical "holier-than-thou" attitude of modern Christians and their single minded belief that they remain "saved from evil" as long as they worship God. It is not intentionally "anti-Christian" or "anti-catholic". It is more of a clever satire but there will always be the more conservative ones who would cry sacrilege.
At only 87 minutes long, Priest moves at a brisk pace and at the very least it is not boring. It would no doubt entertain action junkies and fans of post apocalyptic thrillers although more time could have been spent developing the characters or delving into the underlying themes that were addressed. Priest is spectacular but soulless, with a nice looking "body" but barely enough "blood" and "spirit" to satisfy the more sophisticated movie goer.
6.5/10 Rounded down to 6
88 of 131 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?