Forgive them, for they know not what they do in a vampire-action movie
Scott Charles Stewart
Written by: Cory Goodman, Min-Woo Hyung (graphic novel)
Starring: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet and Maggie Q
Based on the Korean graphic novel series of the same title, Priest is a poor cinematic adaptation of what could have potentially been a money-grabbing win. With a story that has all the right elements of a compelling supernatural thriller, a cast of more than capable actors, and special effects that are sharp and easy to come by (especially in this day and age), Priest appears to be well equipped to go slaying vampires into mainstream popularity. But when the film itself doesn’t take the time to bask in its own creative potential or even its apparent high concept, mindless action, it rushes into a predictable storyline that never reaches a climax or digs into the gritty depths of its themes or characters – something which the film would have greatly benefitted from.
Paul Bettany gets back into self-flatulation after The Da Vinci Code as Priest – a vampire slayer who has been trained to weaken vampire forces that have terrorised the human race and holed them up into fortified cities, controlled by the very same government and religious order of ‘the Church’ which created knife flicking priests. But when his brother, Owen/Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) is attacked in the wastelands, Priest must track down these newly formed vampire groups with the local sheriff, Hicks (Cam Gigandet, who was also James in Twilight), as the safety of his loved ones are placed in great danger. Oh, and the extinction of the human race is also on the cards.
While I haven’t read the graphic novel series, I’m going to go ahead and assume that the story of Priest is much more suited to the detail and elaborated storytelling that a sit-down read can offer. As the film seems like its in such a rush to get to the ending, it misses out on all the elements of action, character development and chemistry between characters that are essential in making the film anything worth watching. It’s as though the film chose to focus on the very things that bring it down. For example, slow motion editing draws our attention to the ridiculously unbelievable and somewhat overexaggerated stunts of Priest, but we never really get a chance to inspect his awesome weapons and technological hoo-has that make up a Blade Runner-esque city. The partnership of Hicks and Priest is unexciting and somewhat unnecessary. I mean, it’s not exactly teamwork when one of you is super awesome at killing vampires and the other can’t even shoot a gun properly (and don’t even get me started on his pessimism).
With casting that clearly capitalized on the vampire trend that’s been spreading like an infection (I hope there will be an uprising of vampire-fan slayers soon), Priest could have been a lot more engaging and super cool if it had taken advantage of the very fundamentals of what makes a good movie. A little more depth to the characters, concepts and maybe even a little humour could have been nice. I’m going to pray for its clean and quick death at the box office and eternal rest in the underworld of uninteresting movies.