¨You would have made a good priest.¨
Cam Gigandet may have made a good priest, but Paul Bettany definitely didn’t. This was the wrong movie for him, the wrong story, and the wrong script. He should have learned his lesson after working with Scott Charles Stewart in Legion. After that fiasco, somehow both of them decided to team up again for Priest and they managed to make an even worse movie. Stewart`s career as a director seems to be going nowhere and he should stick with working in the visual arts department where he has had greater success. First time screenplay writer, Cory Goodman, wasn’t able to adapt a decent story from Min-Woo Hyung`s graphic novel of the same name. The dialogue in this film is just pathetic, and there are really few positive things I can say about this movie. Paul Bettany isn’t the type of guy you should cast as a leading actor for an action film. He is great in the supporting role or as a villain, but he isn’t the hero type. The post apocalyptic world created is really dark and has worked in the past with other similar movies, but it just didn’t feel real in Priest. From the very opening animation scene one could tell that Priest was heading into disaster territory. The visuals were ok, but the main problem was in the story itself. Fortunately Priest is less than 90 minutes long, thanks to the fact that the simple plot moves rather quickly. I don’t think I could have taken much more if it were longer.
The plot is surprisingly very simple for a post apocalyptic sci-fi futuristic film. Men and vampires have been in war for years and therefore Earth has been almost completely destroyed. Vampires began winning the war, but humans found hope in a secret weapon: priests. These priests were trained specifically to kill vampires, and they became experts in doing so. Priests singlehandedly won the war and the few surviving vampires were sent to outposts and were secluded. Once the war was over, the Church had no more need for priests so they made them live as ordinary citizens among the walled-in cities which were ruled by the Church. There are also some people who question the Church`s authority and they live in small towns outside the walled city. Paul Bettany plays a Priest who still has nightmares about the War with vampires and can`t seem to adapt to life inside the city wall. When he hears that his niece Lucy (Lily Collins), who lived with her parents outside the walled city, has been abducted by vampires he asks for the Church`s permission to hunt the vampires. Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) tells Priest that it is impossible that the vampires have escaped their prisons and therefore doesn’t give him authority to leave the city walls. Priest goes against those orders and is set to find Lucy along with the town Sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet) who was in love with her. Together they discover that the vampires have escaped their cells and are planning on attacking the city walls under the leadership of Black Hat (Karl Urban), an ex-priest who has become a vampire. Along the way they find an ally in Priestess (Maggie O) and together they try to put an end to the new vampire threat and save Lucy`s life before it is too late.
I am not familiar with the graphic novel so I can`t say how faithful this movie is to it, but what I can say is that the story is really weak and the dialogue in this film is terrible. The action scenes are ok, but we`ve seen them before. There is nothing fresh about this new apocalyptic world that Stewart is trying to create. The Book of Eli was a much better post apocalyptic film. It also helps to have someone like Denzel Washington as a lead actor. Paul Bettany isn`t the kind of actor you want to star in your action film. The rest of the cast was alright. Maggie O is good as a supporting character and so was Cam Gigandet. Karl Urban also delivers in his few scenes as the villain. The main problem wasn`t the acting, but the material these actors had to work with. Priest simply fails to deliver in so many ways and I guarantee this movie will end up in my list of worst movies of the year. This is a movie you will want to skip. There are plenty of other hunting vampire films that are much better than this one.