Anyone who shows up for Priest anticipating an inspirational story about a clergyman will go away disappointed, but anyone expecting an action-packed ride will be utterly shattered.
Based on a manhwa (Korean comic) of the same name, Priest is set in a dystopian alternate reality where a bitter war between humans and vampires has just concluded. This world is ruled by the Church, who deployed specially-trained priests to eliminate the vampires. With the threat gone, the priests now live as outcasts. Our protagonist, the aptly-named Priest (Paul Bettany), is quite content living a life of unintentionally scaring people, until he is informed of his niece’s kidnapping. The vampires are back. Priest sets out into the wasteland to save her, accompanied by a sheriff (and his niece’s romantic interest), Hicks (Cam Gigandet).
Priest is what you get when you throw Tron: Legacy, True Grit and any generic vampire hunter flick into a blender. That isn’t a bad thing by any means, but this picture takes that concept and grinds it into dust. First, and most significantly, there are only a handful of thrills in this purported “supernatural action” movie, which do not outnumber the number of yawns it induces. There are some stunningly rendered images of the futuristic city and the wasteland that surrounds it, but the people who populate this realm are incapable of having conversations; only exchanges of dramatic statements. On the subject of pointless 3D, Priest proves that something can always go from “ineffective” to “painful.”
Bettany, Maggie Q (who plays Priestess) and Karl Urban (the main villain, Black Hat) do what they can to be mysterious, melancholic and menacing respectively, but there is a lack of depth in this movie that all the slow-motion vampire killing in the world can’t make up for.
Priest is a laughably inept film, but what makes it truly deplorable is that it’s nothing more than a shameless attempt to start a franchise. If it does come to pass, you shouldn’t return for Priest 2 unless you enjoy staring into space for 87 minutes straight and gaining absolutely nothing from it.