Review in a Hurry: A soulless sci-fi thriller about crucifix-tattooed warriors battling vampires, Priest is too serious to be any fun. Odd since star Paul Bettany speaks with a silly Clint Eastwood voice the whole time.
The Bigger Picture: Good B movies have novel premises. Like priest assassins who hunt vampires—for God! Long ago, the priests were the chief defenders on the War on Fangs, see. But lately, they’ve been pushed aside since all the beasties have been slaughtered. Now Priest (Bettany) has visions a battle is coming—but the head of the church (Christopher Plummer, in a paycheck role) threatens to have him stripped of his soldier status if he can’t keep quiet about all this vampire nonsense.
Soon (of course!) a young damsel is distressed. Priest mounts his trusty Road Warrior-like motor bike, off to save the girl by finding the monsters’ lair. Along for the ride is a hunky teen sheriff (Twilight‘s Cam Gigandet) and The Priestess (Nikita‘s Maggie Q.)
Sounds tongue-in-cheeky, right? Sounds fun? It’s so not.
The script by Cory Goodman (based on a graphic novel) is filled with cliché-ridden dialogue and barely any plot. That would be fine if director Scott Charles Stewart instilled his Catholic-themed sci-fi (he also helmed Legion) with life. The setting, a cross between Blade Runner and a Western, feels flat, inert. The post conversion 3D that’s too dark to see what’s happening makes it worse.
How can motorcycles, dagger-like crosses and vampires (in the same scene!) be so boring? Relying way too much on Matrix-style slo-mo is tired. CG monsters that look like every other movie-of-the-week creature is eye-roll inducing.
Any bit of humor would have helped. We want to have fun with a post-apocalyptic film called Priest. Too bad the filmmakers seem to be the only mortals on Earth who don’t realize this.
The 180—a Second Opinion: We aren’t the only ones that must have loved the silly premise: Why else are the small roles filled by good actors? Stephen Moyer (True Blood) plays the damsel’s caretaker, Brad Dourif (The Lord of the Rings) is a con man and Karl Urban (Star Trek) is a Man In Black baddie. They do their best to keep us awake.