[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B003NVM5GU][/pullquote] The success of films like Sin City and 300 have lead to a spate of graphic novel to film adaptations, some of which were commercially successful (Kick-Ass) and some not so (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). Priest comes from similar graphic novel roots, based as it is on a Korean novel of the same name, with director Scott Stewart trying to harness the film-going publics seemingly endless demand for such adaptations.
Set in a Christianity-dominated dystopic future, Priest follows our eponymous hero (Paul Bettany) as a member of kick-ass clergymen, created to fight the ongoing threat of vampire invasion. Once the war is won and the vampire threat contained, they are cast back into society with little to offer but prayer. Haunted by the death of his best friend Black Hat (Karl Urban), Priest gets embroiled in a vampiric resurgence at the hands of a mysterious stranger and is suddenly called back into service.
It is clear where Stewart draws his inspiration for the grim future, as sweeping shots of the blackened metropolis hark back to Blade Runner. In fact the comparison is so obvious, it’s almost plagiarism, but it works within the context of the film, as does Priest’s look, like a tattooed tribal martial artist, everything about the film reaks of cool. Sadly the plot does not.
From the outset, the action is cheesy, predictable and badly conceived. If you were to sit a 5-year-old down at a computer and describe the premise of the film, they would be able to write Priest, probably with more convincing dialogue. Ever possible clichÃ©d moment is re-enacted for our ˜pleasure’ and the whole time the great lead actor and interesting source material are wasted.
For someone with Bettany’s (and even Urban’s) talent, this is a complete waste of time. Aside from the fact he has only recently starred in a religious action film (the deeply flawed, but fun Legion also directed by Stewart), what he is doing in this film is quite beyond this reviewer. For a man who showed so much promise at various points in his career, he does pick some awful projects.
So with bad acting, terrible dialogue and a plot that would only work if the film had been treated with care and attention, what we’re left with is one of the most boring action films in recent years.