Having teamed on last year’s supernatural actioneer Legion, director Scott Stewart and actor Paul Bettany seem to have an interest in Gothic combat set amidst religious overtones. What’s unfortunate is that these settings are employed only for iconography rather than ideas. Anyone hoping for something akin to the novels of Peretti or Dekker will be left wanting.

The closest it gets is with the Priestess warrior played admirably by Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III).  She’s given the film’s one good line—“Our power doesn’t come from the church; it comes from God,” though that thought is never fleshed out—is the only priest that actually prays, and offers the lone good performance, exerting an emotional depth and conflict that, quite frankly, the film doesn’t deserve. 

In more ambitious hands, Priest could work as a parable but sadly remains just a Hollywood genre piece. Successful though it may be at what it’s trying to do, it’s far from enough. And even as it sets itself up for sequels, there’s little reason to have faith that future installments will redeem what must be endured here.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol Content: None.
  • Language/Profanity: One “f” word. 
  • Sexual Content/Nudity: Embracing and kissing. Mild sexual references, such as a man sticking out his tongue as he asks a teenage girl to kiss him.
  • Violence: Quite frankly, too numerous and detailed to mention. In short, it’s a bloody and violent movie involving vampires and the slaying thereof. To name a few examples: a great deal of violence involving fights and attacks with vampires. Swordplay, knifeplay, multiple stabbings, cuts, etc. Gunplay, with vampires being shot, to graphic effect. Lots of blood, including spurting blood after cuts and stabs. Blood is poured from a wound and into a man’s mouth. A man is blown to pieces by a vampire crushing him; parts of man’s body are seen afterward. Shooting vampires with flame-throwers. Various severed limbs. See a man’s partially eaten head. Vampires bite people, and we see one transform into a vampire. Chickens heads being chopped off, a bucket of bloody chicken heads.  Vampires feast on a human body. A vampire pulls the heart out of a man’s chest, and then crushes it. Three priests are seen on crosses, having been crucified. An ax is thrown into a man’s head. General carnage related to vampire attacks and fights with vampires.