Priest - Blu-ray Review

'it might help you to nod off, safe in the knowledge that everyone will be exactly where you left them when you wake up'

How much you vilify Paul Bettany for appearing as the same character in Legion, The Da Vinci Code and Priest will depend on your capacity for enduring actors playing what is ostensibly the same role on a revolving carousel of plots. He isn't quite Sarah Jessica Parker, Katherine Heigl or Jason Statham but this is still a 'know what you're getting' film: Bettany growls and grunts his way through a load of ridiculous dialogue about (this time) vampires, before killing them dead in various ways, all whilst singularly failing to crack a smile. Quids in if you like this sort of thing.

Unlike Bettany's previous outings as the growly man who may or may not possess power beyond everyone else in the film, Priest has rather ill-advisedly got one eye on a potential sequel. Released at the very start of the summer season, it was never very likely to break box office records and pinning your final act on the hope that you can come back and reveal what happened is not a hugely smart move from director Scott Charles Stewart and/or writer Cory Goodman. The fact that said third act spends a good twenty-five minutes drawing everything it can out of a single location doesn't help matters, although it might help you to nod off, safe in the knowledge that everyone will be exactly where you left them when you wake up.

The middle third of the film reveals itself to be much better than either of its book ends. From roughly the segment where Bettany explains the 'point A, point B' rule to sidekick Cam Gigandet (average at best) to the time when our heroes leave Jericho, Priest manages to be quite fun. There's a couple of half-decent jumps, the only moment where Goodman remembers to write a good payoff line (it oddly goes to Gigandet) and some nicely realised locations. For a brief time, Stewart makes the film both watchable, pacy and effective.

Too soon though, the final third kicks in and the film enters inertia. If only every film that started with a Blade Runner 'burning' city scape (yes, this is another one) could live up to Ridley Scott's narrative mastery.

Look further...

'very much like this director/ actor partnership’s previous film, Legion, Priest’s conventional narrative is unsurprisingly poor and predictable throughout' - The Film Review


  1. Cam Gigandet was a disgrace in this. Honestly a film should never be released to theatres with acting that is so poor in it. His acting is so bad the film would have trouble even being released as a made for TV film!
    Your write nails Priest's failings perfectly. And yet even though it is as close to crap as it is possible to get it had a certain stylishnes to it that I liked. I'm ashamed to say I enjoyed this more than I should of considering what a load of rot it is!

  2. Always the way Brent! There's always going to be a few each year that look like (and are) absolutely awful films but still manage to entertain on some level or another.

    Gigandet just isn't a very good actor is he? I'd love to be kind and give him a chance but I've seen him in a few things now and at no point has he suggested to me that he's concealing hidden talents beneath all the questionable frowning.

  3. Thought it was wretched, at times it looked better than it did and at other times it looked very cheap. Bettany doesn't seem to care and you can feel it through his gravely tones and blank stare. The script was so derivative and poor when it came to charaterisation.

    It's a shame as the world that's been built looks good and could have been home to a decent story, alas it wasn't to be

  4. yeah... i'm not a really good judge on this one. i liked the visuals alright, but bettany can do no wrong in my eyes :P. i thought it was middle of the line mediocre, but maybe it was my favoring bettany that made me have a higher appreciation of it. :)

  5. oh yeah! i did like the "cartoon" bit an awful lot.

  6. desertofreel - I'm not sure I liked the vampire design. Didn't think they had enough detail. The smooth-skinned look was too artificial and on the bigger ones (that thing in the hive) it was pretty obvious. There was basically no characterisation for two-three of the supporting cast.

    vic - Loved the animated intro. Really like animation used effectively in live-action films (see also: Harry Potter 7.1). I can see why people like Bettany in this type of role but everything surrounding him didn't do it for me here.

  7. @ Film Intel I should have been a bit clearer, not the vampires themselves, I thought they looked artificial but the setting/environments. However now that I think about it, the setting feels a bit like Judge Dredd from 90s

  8. Not a bad comparison at all. There are certainly similarities between the two... and a link to the new version, in fact!