If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that actor Paul Bettany and director Scott Stewart had joined forces with the sole aim of disappointing me.
After the squandered promise of their last collaboration, the tepid warrior-angel action flick Legion, I was naturally dubious about their next project together, even if it did sound like a concept it would be difficult to screw up.
I mean, a superhero priest (yes, really) taking on an army of vampires (yes, really) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (yes, REALLY)?
You’d have to work pretty hard to make that a dull, uninvolving dirge of a movie.
Well, Bettany and Stewart have worked hard. And they’ve made a dull, uninvolving dirge of a movie in Priest. On the bright side, at least it runs for under 90 minutes.
One can only hope the talented Bettany has got his desire to be Clint Eastwood out of his system after playing the titular Priest, a veteran of a long, bloody conflict with a race of vampires that led to humans barricading themselves in walled cities and the bloodsuckers roaming the barren deserts.
Strangely enough, there are still farmers scrabbling to eke out a living in these dusty badlands, Priest’s brother Owen (Stephen Moyer) among them.
When Owen’s farm is attacked by a pack of vamps and his daughter Lucy (Lily Collins) abducted by their leader, Black Hat (Karl Urban), Priest defies the church bigwigs to go forth and kick a little butt.
Teaming up with Lucy’s sweetheart, Sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet), he tracks Black Hat across the desert, uncovering the evil vampire’s dastardly plan to reignite the war between the races.
There is literally nothing new here – every aspect of Priest has been cherry-picked from some other, better movie or TV series.
Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There have been more than a few entertaining trashy flicks pieced together like Frankenstein’s Monster from a variety of different sources.
But the makers of Priest don’t seem to have taken any joy or thrill from mashing up their inspirations and influences into a new beast – they just seem to be checking items off a list with all the breathless excitement of someone doing their weekly groceries.
That lacklustre approach extends to the cast, although Urban offers some tasty villainy as the bad-boy vampire making life hell for Bettany’s Priest.