Business rating: 1 star
Star cast: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q.
What’s Good: The visual effects; the concept of the post-apocalyptic world.
What’s Bad: The average performances; the conventional and unimpressive script.
Verdict: Priest makes for dull viewing. It will fare poorly at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: Around mid-time, when you are tired of the predictability of the story.
Watch or Not?: Watch Priest at your own risk.
Screen Gems’ Priest is the story of a rebel priest’s quest to save a young girl from murderous vampires in spite of church rules to the contrary.
‘Priest’ is based in a post-apocalyptic world where humans are terrified by vampires. A Big Brother-like Church, the seat of all authority, decimates and contains the vampires by training a group of priests as specialist vampire killers. After the vampire menace is brought under control, the group of warrior priests is disbanded; and the priests are forced to do menial jobs.
One such warrior (Paul Bettany) is forced back into action after his niece, Lucy (Lily Collins), is kidnapped by vampires. Defying the Church’s decree, Priest goes out into the wastelands in search of his niece. He is joined in this crusade by his niece’s boyfriend, Hicks (Cam Gigandet), a sharpshooter sheriff from the wasteland. Soon, the Church learns of Priest’s misdemeanour and sends the Priestess (Maggie Q) and a band of priests to capture him.
The Priest’s quest leads him to unlikely vampire hives where he executes vampires with panache. Hicks, too, learns the ropes of vampire-killing. Soon, the Priestess also joins them as she abandons the church.
After a couple of other priests, sent to locate him, are mysteriously killed, Priest realises that he is fighting against something big. Where does the quest lead him? Is he able to save the niece? The rest of the film answers these questions.
Priest Review – Script Analysis
Cory Goodman’s script, based on the graphic novel series, ‘Priest’, by Min-Woo Hyung, has nothing novel to offer. The basic idea of the film (vampires versus priests in a post-apocalyptic setting) is appealing but the script fails to sustain the viewers’ interest. An attempt seems to have been made to selectively choose elements from different vampire/sci-fi films and put them together. The fact that the priests live in a post-apocalyptic world, yet drive high-tech super bikes, is too weird to believe. Also, the computer-generated vampires in the film are not human-like (as is usual in most vampire flicks) but animal-like and ugly.
Moreover, Priest’s quest is anything but heroic or momentous. His camaraderie with the niece’s boyfriend seems forced as does his relationship with the Priestess. To top it all, the action sequences, though executed well, fail to excite the audience. The climactic confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist is disappointing.
Priest Review – Performances & Direction
Paul Bettany does an average job as Priest. Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q and Lily Collins support well. Karl Urban (as Black Hat, the antagonist) has hardly anything to do, besides look menacing.
Scott Stewart’s direction is nothing to write home about. His excessive focus on the visual effects (which are his area of expertise) does not make the film any better. His neglect of the script and the narrative definitely pull the film down. Christopher Young’s background score goes with the mood of the film. Don Burgess’ cinematography is good, though certain frames could have been lit more brightly. Editing, by Lisa Zeno Churgin and Rebecca Weigold, is okay. Visual effects are good.
Priest Review – Verdict
On the whole, Priest disappoints. The film will not make much of a mark at the Indian box-office.