Priest (2011)

(In theaters, May 2011) It’s not a good sign when you can feel the film’s final act locking itself into position, think “Already?”, look at your watch and find out that the film’s barely past the 65-minutes mark.  There may not be all that much to say about Priest, but at least it has the decency to wrap things up in less than 90 minutes.  Anything more would have been wasted, mind you: Even though the film seem very loosely adapted from a presumably richer Korean graphic novel series, there just isn’t a whole lot of plot here to gnaw upon: Setup, two dramatic confrontation and we’re already on to the third act.  At least there’s a bit of eye-candy to contemplate during that time: The techno-grunge atmosphere is a bit tired, but it’s reinvigorated with the somewhat less usual industrial-western feel of the film’s middle section.  Paul Bettany also gets a good role as priest with quasi-supernatural ass-kicking powers: After seeing him in so many dramatic roles (including Charles Darwin in Creation), it’s entertaining to see him re-team with Legion’s director Scott Stewart for action-movie credentials.  Otherwise, well, Maggie Q is fine as another renegade Priest, Karl Urban chews scenery like he enjoys it and Christopher Plummer earns a pay-check as the face of the shallow-but-oppressive Church.  But it’s all flash and pretty visuals here: no depth, little originality and even less substance.  That doesn’t make it a bad film as much as it makes it a very forgettable one. The future for Priest is clear: an unceremonious DVD release, and then onward to cultural oblivion.

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