Hello g33ks and m33ks and any Grammaton Clerics out there reading this review. I have the inauspicious duty of reviewing the comic book (really manhwa) adaptation Priest. I was not overly excited about this film going in considering it was surrounded by Thor and Pirates 4 in release dates. I didn’t even think I’d get a chance to see it but I did. The reason I’m saying this is normally I put in some time with the source material or at least do some research into it before going to see the film adaptation but unfortunately I did not in this case. As a result I don’t know the conventions of the book and as such I don’t know if the characters are true to form or changed so bear with me.
Priest is based in an alternate Earth where humanity and vampires evolved side by side and have warred for centuries. The war constantly pushed one or the other species to near extinction. The vampires strength and speed eventually lead to a tipping point with humanity until the creation of a new unit of warriors, the Priests. Sanctified and trained by the church, these men and women are culled in their youth and trained in “vampire combat” given holy orders and sent out to destroy the vampires in their hives. In this universe vampires are not part human they are creatures that evolved along side of human beings and although Priests are religious figures and must follow Catholic(ish) doctrine… their religious nature is not their power. The Priests seemed to evolve as an answer to the vampire, stronger faster and more attuned to tracking and hunting. The Priests win the war and are decommissioned, vampires are placed on reservations with their familiars, humans live in walled super cities or out in the barren wastelands. After many years and the loss of a valued partner Priest (Paul Bettany) is pulled to the wastelands by the kidnapping of his niece. Weird west fans, and those looking for a sleek shiny action fest would find themselves best suited to see this film as a matinee or to wait for video.
At the end of the day this is a somewhat serviceable action flick. I would write more on it but Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Cam Giganget, Steven Moyer, Christopher Plummer, and all the rest of the performers seemed to be on autopilot. It feels a lot like the film I referenced in my opening greeting, Equilibrium, but not in a good way.
Equilibrium showed us a new style of combat, and its emotionless performances were on purpose. In Priest they just grow to be frustrating and the ‘vampire combat’ while cool has nothing on the gunkata. There’s nothing fantastic or special about this film… its just there. In a summer where Thor is surprising so many people with how good it is and with Pirates 4 coming out next weekend showcasing a major return to form for that series… I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of room in schedules and wallets for a mediocre movie like this one.