To say that Priest is a movie is to insult an art form that has produced some of the greatest works of the century. To say that it has a plot would be a disservice to generations of writers who have made unique and interesting stories. And to quote Roger Ebert’s review of The Spirit “To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material”. Priest is barely a movie. It’s a walking, talking cliche. A film so derivative of just about every sci-fi, horror, and action movie convention on sight that it makes the invention of Star Wars look bad since it was one of the many things that spawned this turd.
So, if I were to say to you that Priest was a horror/action hybrid that used religious elements starring Paul Bettany, you’d probably think to yourself, “Hey, this sounds an awful lot like Legion, one of 2010’s worst movie of the year contenders,” and you’d be right in saying that because they’re both directed by the same guy: Scott Stewart. Stewart apparently has the mindset of a goth poet thinking that adding religious elements into their works makes them appear more deep and substantial than they really are, and that “badass-ifying” those religious elements automatically makes them cool and edgy when it really makes them look silly.
So,if I were to say to you that Priest was about a post-apocalyptic future in which vampires have wiped out most of mankind, and the remaining remnants of humanity take refuge in a dark, gloomy, walled-off city that is controlled entirely by the Church, while a group of warrior-monks called Priests kill vampires in the vast deserts surrounding the city which are controlled by a group of biker-gangs, you’d probably think to yourself, “Hey, this sounds an awful lot like some bad cross-over fanfiction between Star Wars, Blade Runner, Blade, and Mad Max,” and you’d be right in saying that because this movie steals from other movies like a dung beetle carries things: By covering it in their own feces, and rolling it all downhill from there.
To be more specific about the “plot”, Priest takes place in a post-apocalyptic derpy derpy doo involving vampires. When we begin, the vampire war is apparently “over” and now the citizens of the Blade Runner-city live in constant fear of other problems like food, water, shelter, the fact that dark clouds hover above their city all the time and the sun never comes up where they live, Mad Max biker gangs, these infected humans called “Familiars” or something, and the fact that the church takes the 1984 route of authoritative dictator-ship, and takes over just about every facet of the citizens’ lives.
Because the vampire-war is “over”, the
Priests have taken the Vietnam war-veteran lifestyle, and are now retired and constantly treated like shit. One of them is Paul Bettany, and he is constantly haunted by dreams of his fellow Priests who sacrificed themselves in the vampire-war. Bettany, however, gets a tip from a douchey-looking sheriff from one of the human colonies outside the city saying that Bettany’s brother has been injured by a vampire attack and his niece has been kidnapped by a gang-leader named Black Hat (Karl Urban, but he looks like Timothy Olyphant). Now, Paul Bettany, finally with a chance to prove to the clergy that the vampire menace is still out there, goes on a quest to save his niece. The clergy, being idiots, think that the best way to stop a rogue Priest would be to send in MOAR rogue Priests after him. And thus, mayhem ensues.
The biggest problem with Priest is how “seriously” it takes itself. Paul Bettany talks like Aaron Eckhart in Battle: Los Angeles imitating Christian Bale in The Dark Knight imitating a squirrel with lung-cancer. The dialogue is so straight-faced, and is delivered like it is the most important sentence in the history of the world. And whenever a silly, predictable twist or cliche pops up, the film treats its audience like morons and assumes that people have never seen or heard of the movies I mentioned above that Priest “borrows” from.
As far as action-scenes go, everything is standard. It’s not headache-inducing like Battle: Los Angeles‘s shaky cam bullshit, but it’s exceptionally bland and boring. There’s literally only one cool thing in this movie and it involves a supporting character throwing two rocks in the air, and Paul Bettany using those rocks as “stepping stones” to climb up and stab a mega-vampire. And as soon as that’s over, it all reverts back to blandness.
All of these traits combined makes for one of the dullest, most derivative movies of the last five years. The fact that you can make a movie about Warrior-Priests killing vampires with ninja-crucifixes and other absurdities as boring as a documentary on lead paint is one of the most perplexing things you will ever experience as a movie-goer. It is, thankfully, not as boring as Legion, which was essentially just four or five guys sitting in a diner while all the cool shit is happening outside, but that’s not saying much, and it’s predictability makes even the cool ideas in it yawn-inducing.
Priest is apparently based on a graphic novel series of some sort, which I would hope to assume is much better than this half-assed adaptation. And just like comic books, the film teases that a sequel could potentially happen if audiences give enough of a shit, which, frankly, is just wishful thinking on Scott Stewart’s part.
Final Verdict: At least most bad movies can be so bad they’re entertaining (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), but Priest manages to be simultaneously so awful, and at the same time, one of the dullest films in a long time. Any semblance of plot and characters is non-existent, the action is nothing special, it wastes a slightly well-established and interesting setting on a smorgasbord of cliches and movie conventions from superior films, and the entire experience just has a smug sense of self-satisfaction that made me sick to my stomach. Basically, if you’ve seen a Resident Evil movie, you’ve seen this. And as much as it pains me to say it, you’re probably better off seeing even those movies than this turd.
That’s all for now.
See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to repent for watching this movie.