Priest is set in an alternate, post-apocalyptic world, which has been ravaged by centuries of war between men and vampires. After the last vampire war, which was won by warrior Priests, the religious guardians have created massive walled-in dystopian cities in which they control the population with Orwellian slogans and faceless, automated drudgery. Outside the walls lie vast wastelands populated by nomadic people and farmers trying to eke out an existence on the lifeless earth.
A family of farmers are attacked by vampires, the mother (Madchen Amick) and father (Stephen Moyer) are slain and their teenage daughter Lucy (Lily Collins) is taken hostage. She is the niece of a former warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) who against the church leaders wishes, sets out from the city to track her down to rescue or kill her…
Priest is a grab bag of material from a myriad of sources; stolen from Judge Dredd, 1984, any Terry Gilliam futuristic film, most post-apocalyptic adventures of the last few decades, The Searchers and innumerable martial arts flicks with a bit of Blade for good measure; so not much original thought.
It’s both poorly written and poorly performed; Paul Bettany as the titular Priest is wasted here even more so than in the similarly lack-lustre Legion. Karl Urban as bad-guy, former Priest turned vampire and Cam Gigandet as a kind of frontier sheriff are charisma vacuums. Maggie Q is also wasted in a pointless role as another former Priest sent out to track ‘Priest’ down.
Written by Cory Goodman from a Korean graphic novel, which I haven’t read and have no intention too, Priest has a thin plot, underwritten characters and pedestrian dialogue. It’s directed by former visual effects developer and Legion director Scott Stewart, and as you’d expect with his background, some of the production design and special effects are good. But without characters worth following, a predictable storyline and distinctly PG-13 styled violence, Priest has very little else to offer. The vampire design is more akin to Salem’s Lot with a bit of The Descent and the odd Orc thrown into the mix than the sparkly versions that have been populating the screens of late.
The movie leaves itself wide open for a sequel, apparently there are several graphic novels; however it’s difficult to see anyone being interested in seeing it.
Quality: 2 out of 5 stars
Any Good: 1 out of 5 stars