Friday, November 11, 2011

PRIEST (2011) - Paul Bettany hates vampires

Priest opens with a neat animated segment that gives an overview of the world the movie is set in. A war between humans and vampires has been raging for thousands of years, with humans being hunted almost to extinction. Humanity's last gasp for salvation is the Church, which has turned the tide of the war by unleashing their secret weapon against the vampires: the Priests. The Priests are born warriors, trained to perfection to kill vampires and fanatically loyal to the Church, and thanks to them humans finally defeat the vampires and lock up the survivors in a series of reservation camps. The humans that survived the war have taken shelter in massive walled cities in a society which is completely dominated by the all-powerful Church. With the war over, the Priests have outlived their usefulness and have been disbanded.

Face tats are all the rage in the future.
 A few hardy humans still live in the wastelands outside the walled cities, and it's in one of those small homesteads that a young family is attacked by a pack of vampires in the middle of the night. The father, Owen, is left for dead after his wife is killed and their teen daughter Lucy (Lily Collins) is kidnapped. Back in the imaginatively named Cathedral City, a Priest (Paul Bettany) is approached by Hicks (Cam Gigandet), a sheriff from the town where the family was attacked. It turns out that Owen is the Priest's brother, and he's told about Lucy's disappearance. The Priest goes before a council of Church authorities and asks for his reinstatement so that he may find the girl, but he's refused and forbidden to leave the city. He does so anyways, and teams up with Hicks despite knowing that it will mean a death sentence for both of them if they are caught.

"Edward Cullen? Never heard of him, bro."
 Hicks and the Priest follow the trail of the vampires to several reservations and vampire hives, hoping to find clues to Lucy's location. Back in Cathedral City, the Church brings back four Priests from retirement, and sends them after Hicks and the Priest, with orders to bring them back dead or alive. While on Lucy's trail, the Priest and Hicks discover that there's another, much more serious bigger problem to deal with than the missing girl. Black Hat (Karl Urban), an ex-Priest turned vampire, has been creating a new vampire army and is planning to restart the war. The Priest, Hicks, and a Priestess (Maggie Q), are the only ones that can stop those bloodsucking creeps.

Phil Collins is gonna be pissed you're messing with his daughter, pal.
Priest is based on a comic book, which means that due to the fact that I'm not a gigantic nerd (just a regular nerd), I've never heard about it. I can't comment on how faithful it is to the source material, but setting stood out well. The world design in Priest is cool: the cities are a mix of Blade Runner-meets-V for Vendetta, the post-apocalyptic wastelands look believable, and for once, we get some menacing vampires (no Twilight here) which look the part of hellish beasts. The action itself is nice, with plenty well-paced, exciting fights which are unfortunately let down by a bit of bad CGI every now and then. Some of the acting is a bit iffy, the dialogue feels forced at times, and there's a bit too much slow motion used. Thankfully, Paul Bettany is in good form. He's clearly the most talented guy on the cast, and it's hard to understand why this guy keeps getting mediocre roles. Bettany is an imposing presence, handles his fights well, and is the only one who can breeze through his dialogue without sounding like he's at rehearsal.

Damn that vow of celibacy!
Priest had plenty of potential going for it, especially the first half hour or so which is exciting and gets things off to a good start, but around the halfway mark it just starts to fizzle away into mediocrity with twists that you can see coming miles away. Watching Paul Bettany beat the shit out of some vampires while rocking that wicked face tatoo makes for a decent time killer, but the weak story and half-assed ending really lets it down. It's enjoyable enough if you catch it on TV or for a rental, but unless you're a fan of the genre or have a secret crush on Bettany, it's not really memorable at all.

Best scene: the Priestess takes out five guys on bikes with a gnarly looking hook on a wire, complete with a mid-air dismemberment. Holy schnike!

Best line: "You've got your gun armed? You're gonna need it." BOOM. Vampires.

TL;DR - Nice vampire killing action by Paul Bettany can't make up for a weak story - 6/10


  1. Isn't it adapted from a comic? Sounds pretty good.

  2. Good for a brainless evening of fun

  3. @ Mike, yes it's based on a Korean comic apparently.

  4. Wow you posted this on 11:11 11/11/11. Also, I love Cam Gigandet and his stupid last name so I will watch.

  5. so it's kind of like Judge Dredd but with Vampires? I passed on this in theaters...maybe netflix though, one day. Maybe. haha

  6. ^ Actually, that's exactly how I'd describe it. Except, it's missing Rob Schneider of course haha