Paul Bettany and director Scott Charles Stewart who last teamed up for the surprisingly entertaining “Legion,” bring us “Priest” an action-packed Western/Horror mash-up, based on the Korean graphic novel of the same name, that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where the Catholic Church once called upon priests to act as warriors to protect humans from blood-thirsty vampires, but after the war is over the Church decides there is no longer a need for these warrior priests, forcing the priests into a life of obscurity.
When Priest (Paul Bettany) learns that his niece Lucy (Lily Collins) has been abducted by a pack of vampires, he immediately goes to the clergy and asks to have his authority re-instated. Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) insists that “there is no vampire-menace” and denies his request, forcing Priest to break his vows and leave the city in an attempt to save her before she is turned into a vampire.
Once out of the city, Priest teams up with a local sheriff (Cam Gigandet) and a priestess (Maggie Q), who harbors an unspoken love for Priest, as they battle a slew of vampires in their search for Lucy.
Stewart having started his career with visual effects before moving to the director chair presents us with excellent shots of a decaying futuristic city and long stretches of desert that would be just as stunning in 2D as they are in 3D.
The film also features awe-inspiring action scenes, such as the one where Priest jumps into the air and slices a beast-like vampire’s guts open.
Holding the film together are the exceptional performances of Bettany, Karl Urban (“The Bourne Supremacy,” 2009’s “Star Trek”) and Plummer (“Inside Man,” “Up”). Bettany commands our attention as a man of God hardened by years of war, haunted by memories of a failed mission. Urban playing a former priest turned vampire known only as Black Hat, effortlessly brings the villainy of his character to life. Plummer plays a shady church official, relishing in his authority.
Christopher Young gives us a superb score that emphasizes the film’s sense of terror and religious undertones perfectly.
“Priest” is a thoroughly entertaining horror adventure, that similar to a vampire’s unquenchable thirst for blood, leaves you craving for more.
(“Priest” is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and some language.)
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