Bettany and Plummer awesome as usual, Maggie Q at her best !!!
I should have known from the opening screen that this was a movie to be wary about. It said "Screen gems presents". "Screen gems". And what a "gem" this was!
When a movie mostly (2 times) gets nominated for its score and sound editing, you know something's up. Especially if it stays at nominations without any wins. And then there's the nomination for 'Best Screenplay' from the Horror Writers Association. The what? Yes, the HWA. They've been handing out Bram Stoker Awards for "superior achievement" in dark fantasy and horror writing since 1987. Guess you can change that "horror writing" to "horrible writing" here and it would make perfect sense, since 'Priest' is a prime example of "superior achievement in horrible writing".
It already went wrong at the start. If you need a six-minute animated intro explaining the world, your storytelling is not at the right pace. I'll get back to that later.
So, what's this movie about? This sums it up: renegade priest (Paul Bettany) goes on a rampage. But I don't think that was what its creators intended to make. I bet the inception of this flick went something like this:
Writer A: "Let's make a movie with a really big BOOOOM!!! at the end!"
Writer B: "Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah. But what about a story?"
Writer A: "Who cares? If enough people like the BOOOOM!!! at the end, we can make a sequel with another big BOOOOM!!! at the end!"
Writer B: "OK, cool!"
So this is a movie about a priest on a rampage. But what is he on a rampage for? His daughter has been kidnapped by a human/vampire hybrid (wearing a black cowboy hat) who wants to take over the world. She's held on a train that's on its way to the vampire-free cities. The priest and his sidekick (girl's boyfriend) travel through the wasteland and villages on motorcycles with jet engines, trying to catch up with the train. (Did I mention the jet-engines are charged with solar power? Don't get me started on that.) The church sends four other priests after the renegade, but they all fail to stop him. Three get killed by "The Black Hat" (original name, eh?) and the fourth just switches sides and joins our lead characters.
Every time the movie starts to pick up some pace, it immediately slows down again. It happens in the Hive, in Jericho, on the train, etc. Eventually they manage to kill one baddie, but only to reveal that a much bigger enemy is coming. Sequel anyone??
Bettany could have staged a much more interesting priest character, but the lacking script just wouldn't let him develop. I was going to find out what other masterpieces writer Cory Goodman has to his name, but it seems like there's nothing besides "Priest". What a surprise.
Good points? The cinematography of this movie is OK, but I don't recommend this movie to anyone. Unless you want to skip The Matrix, I Am Legend, Blade Runner and Mad Max to name a few. If you see this movie, you'll have seen quite a few trademark aspects of those movies as well.
Conclusion: it's not original, it doesn't have great storytelling, it doesn't have great characters and it's got a clichéd ending. Verdict: AVOID!