PRIEST

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the HG, why the Hell was this
movie made? A dreary dystopian drama along the disappointing lines of
The Book of Eli, it suffers most from a star who is not up to his
thespian vows. Has there ever been a lead performance so vacant? Paul
Bettany is going for stoic and stolid, but his pale, internalized turn
sucks more life from this movie than all the genuine vampires
combined. The sets look more like storyboards, and the photography is
so relentlessly dark as to lull you to doze — until the blasting
score jolts you into another Asian-style fight scene (complete with
Crouching Tiger-like preternatural leaps) in which overwhelming
numbers of monsters are vanquished and the hero always gets away. (The
clumsy editing doesn't help: if a creature is shown flying within
inches of its prey, the target should not, in the next shot, be seen
running off with a big lead on his pursuer.) On the plus side,
Christopher Plummer looks just right with his Inquisitorial face, and
Brad Dourif's two short scenes liven things up briefly. Creepy Josh
Wingate isn't on screen enough, either. In the end, though, this
PRIEST doesn't have a prayer. — Jeff Schultz

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