Priest (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Priest (2011)

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Priest tells the story of Priest (Paul Bettany), an elite warrior for the Catholic Church who, after helping win a war against vampires, finds himself shunned by the society he once fought to protect.  As our story opens, Priest learns that his  niece Lucy (Lily Collins) has been kidnapped by vampires, lead by former priest-turned-vampire Karl Urban, and he must return to the battlefield once more.

Priest is joined in his search by a small town sheriff named Hicks (Cam Gigandet) and fellow priest Maggie Q, who must find Priest's niece and uncover the vampires' evil plans, all while incurring the wrath of the Church.  Throw in some explosions, slow-mo and a couple dozen CGI vampires and you should have a summer blockbuster that all-but writes itself.  Sadly, Priest's muddled story, bland characters and overall lack of tension create a film that just plain sucks.

Priest is a film with an identity crisis.  Director Scott Stewart has been quoted as saying that the film is an homage to The Searchers, and you do get that sense when watching it.  Unfortunately, it also feels like it pays homage to (read: shamelessly borrows from) several dozen other hit movies.

It's a Western, but it also tries it's hand at being...

  • a dystopian vision of the future! (See Also: Equilibrium, Blade Runner, et al)
  • a veteran's struggle to re-integrate into society! (Jacob's Ladder, Rambo)
  • a revenge story! (GoldenEye, most of British 1960's cinema)
  • and there's even an unrequited love subplot straight from from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon thrown in for good measure!

Hell, even the vampires looked like they were aliens pulled out of Starship Troopers or some Aliens rip-off at the last minute and reassigned to be bloodsuckers.  Now, any of these concepts might have been interesting if there were explored at all, but the film seems content to let the plots stack up, with nary a regard for their answers.  Is the Church hiding something?  Will the priests ever find their place in society?  Are the vampires intelligent or just animals?  Priest doesn't seem to think the audience needs answers to these questions.

And that leads the movie to its biggest flaw, its lack of tension or gravity. Aside from explosions, those factors are probably number two and three on things an action film needs. Priest spends roughly the first ten minutes building up how powerful and all-controlling the Church is, how no one would dare go against them, and yet once Priest does just that and leaves the city... they're forgotten.  Even when Priest (the character, not the film) returns at the very end after having been branded a traitor and a heretic, Monsignor Orelas (Chirstopher Plummer) treats him like someone who just tossed a bad check in the collection plate rather than a heretic.  Big Brother they are not.

The film also spends a lot of screen time trying to build tension between Priest and Hicks, but since the film establishes early on that Priest is a damn-near invulnerable, vampire-killing machine, not much really comes of it.  This sort of "I'm super infinity powerful" feeling bogs down nearly all the fight scenes, too, as everything the film throws at Priest is just vampire cannon fodder.  Nothing can touch him, which make for boring fights and a boring character.

It's a shame because there was some pretty good set design and the visual effects were actually quite a bit better than I was expecting.  The acting wasn't too bad, either, with the actors doing the best with the cliche'-ridden script they had to work with.   I feel that the film could have been better if it would have stuck with futuristic Western theme, or at least picked a couple of subplots and actually finished them, but ultimately Priest is a film that tries to be too many things, and none of them are all that interesting.

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Posted by Jacob

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  1. This piece of shit was also a ripoff of Stewart and Bettany’s last film, Legion. In fact, if you didn’t look too hard into it, the trailer could mislead you into thinking it was a sequel. Good thing Legion was so terrible, it led me away from this one.

  2. I don’t understand why this didn’t go straight to DVD/Blu-ray or trash. It was as if Legion, Mad Max, and The Book of Eli took all of their bad genes, put it in a juicer, decided to extract it and grow it then this movie was the result of it.

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