This a movie set in a steampunk/western/medieval post apocalyptic world; its main character is a vampire hunting, motorcycle riding, cowboy-ninja-priest played by Paul Bettany. And somehow… somehow it managed to be uncool. Somehow it managed to make such a setting feel dull, empty, and unworthy of all those adjectives. Somehow it managed to make its main character even more uninteresting than the setting he inhabits. And most surprising of all, Priest manages to be a movie without any stylistic sense, even when clearly this material would only work under heavy stylization and a very literal interpretation of “the rule of cool”
Some stories are just too dumb. Period. By its premise alone, you expect Priest to be one of those. This is a story about an ex-vampire hunter living in a post-apocalyptic world that resulted from a war between humans and vampires. The humans won in the end, thanks to the vampire hunting priests, but at a terrible price. The world has been reduced to a wasteland and only a few hardy humans dare to live outside the city walls. It is in one of these wasteland towns that the vampires begin to strike again. Unfortunately, for the vampires, this gets Paul Bettany, the most badass of all the priests, chasing their ass. Because it turns out they have kidnapped his niece. Why didn’t they kill her? It is not quite well explained, and the payoff makes no sense. But the point is that now we follow Priest, as the vampire hunting priest is called, across the wasteland in a vampire hunting adventure as he rides his motorcycle towards the sunset. He is joined by lawman and a female priests (I think these guys had names but I can’t remember), on his quest.
As I said this is not the movie that one goes to see expecting a though provoking human drama, or a heartfelt comedy about being human, or anything with perception of depth.
But it could have been cool! It could have been told with humor! It could have been made for a love of the craft! And it could have embraced it ridiculousness!
But no it is incredibly serious about its subject matter. No one once breaks into a smile; there are no winks at the audience; no cheesy lines at the end of a kill; and everyone keeps praying all the time, because they are priests, which only makes it both more dull and more ridiculous. Even Michael Bay was man enough to admit Transformers was just about the explosions, Shia LeBouf being Shia LeBouf, and Megan Fox’s breasts. I can guarantee you that whoever wrote this film would claim it to be an attack of the Roman Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality, the vow of celibacy, and reprimanded sexuality.