However, when an unnamed priest (Paul Bettany) learns that his brother and sister-in-law have been attacked and their teenage daughter Lucy (Lily Collins) taken by a horde of vampires, he feels he must act. He seeks to have his authority reinstated by the Church leaders, but the monsignor (Christopher Plummer) claims that vampires are no longer a threat and that the kidnapping was the work of bandits.
When the priest disobeys the monsignor's command to stay within the city, the Church sends a group of his former colleagues after him. One priestess (Maggie Q) with whom he previously shared a bond teams up with the priest -- as does Lucy's boyfriend, a Wasteland sheriff named Hicks (Cam Gigandet) -- in an effort to track down the girl before she's turned into a bloodsucker.
The End Result
Perhaps because its target audience has the attention span of -- Hey, look, a pony! -- Priest runs barely 80 minutes long (without the credits), and the script feels like it's been gutted of any semblance of depth or logic. There's an intriguing framework of a story, but it hardly delves into the meaty dramatic elements -- like the difficulty of the priests adjusting to society, akin to war vets in our world -- and instead leaves us pondering too may questions. Wouldn't the domineering Church want to keep the vampire threat alive so it could keep the populace under its thumb? If not, then why keep vampires alive on reservations instead of exterminating them? Would these animalistic creatures even be intelligent enough to understand the concept of reservations, much less intelligent enough to battle humans to a stalemate for hundreds of years? No guns? In a war? Really?
Traditional vampire fans should look elsewhere for the expected genre trappings. These are vampires in name only. They're not portrayed as "undead"; they're just creatures, like blind, naked dogs. They could just as easily be called demons or cave-dwelling nocturnal monsters. The only human-like vamps are "familiars," those people who've been bitten by a vampire. There's not much in the way of crosses, garlic or stakes to the heart, and the blood content is of a woefully safe PG-13 level.
But traditionalism and plot holes (and potential racial insensitivity, if you read into the whole vampires-Native Americans parallel) aside, Priest is a fairly entertaining summer flick. It's got big action, eye-popping (3-D) visuals, a quick pace and a strong cast. Don't go in expecting much, and you won't be disappointed when you don't get much.
- Acting: C+ (Bettany helps add legitimacy to the thin genre material.)
- Direction: B- (Stewart is better at action than horror, but lucky for him, the film is more action than horror.)
- Script: D (Thinly drawn story with too many holes in logic.)
- Gore/Effects: C+ (Pretty good CGI effects but minimal, sterile PG-13 gore.)
- Overall: C (Brainless, harmless popcorn fare.)
Priest is directed by Scott Charles Stewart and is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and brief strong language. Release date: May 13, 2011.