Priest, based on the Korean comic of the same name, is set in a future where humanity and vampires have been fighting for warred for many years. Humanity lives in walled cities controlled by a Church. After the last big war with the vampires, a warrior priest, who has seen a lot of action (Paul Bettany), lives in obscurity with other humans. When his niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires, the Priest breaks all the impositions the Church places on humans and priests to hunt them down. Along for the ride are the niece's boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), a wasteland sheriff, and a warrior priestess (Maggie Q).
If the above synopsis has you rolling your eyes, don't go. Seriously, don't. This is a high concept B-film that knows what it is good at and makes no bones about it. There is heavy use of 300
-style fake backdrops to make it look interesting (and to make up for the lack of actual dystopian worlds to shoot it in), and there is barely any excuse to start an action sequence every few minutes.
Scott Stewart, a veteran of movie CGI, tries to create moments every so often, though the backdrops are never that interesting - a downer for a film released in 3D. Worse, the movie, except for the opening sequence marrying 3D with graphic novel elements, seems an anonymous, homogenous-looking product that never stands out in any special manner.
Even Karl Urban's turn as a former colleague and now new human-vampire hybrid who kidnaps the mentioned family member is disappointing - full of charisma but ultimately devoid of character. Oddly enough, that could have been said about the film, if only it wasn't this bland to look at.
Despite its budget and obvious B-movie trappings, the action is thrilling enough, and the short runtime never over stays its welcome. I would have loved to have a more biting commentary on the increasing role of religion in governance or about racial relations and fear of the unknown - something the film teeters on the edge of but never delves into - but a hollow well-shot action flick is better than an unmitigated disaster.
Part of the success in the film's lean entertainment, such as it is, is due to Paul Bettany. He is full of charismatic intrigue and a great presence for doing knuckle-busting action, and brings a vengeful streak to this film unlike before. The sound design also deserves special mention for its contribution to help pop the action.
Ultimately, go if you're bored this weekend and are in the mood for a trashy genre film. Otherwise, let's wait for the summer to kick into action with proper films coming soon.