It’s one thing if Priest is just another bad horror action movie, but it’s sad how much work is wasted on this. It took two years to make Priest. There’ve been enough Comic-Con and WonderCon presentations with newer footage. It’s not like they’re slacking off. They just consciously decided to spend all that time and money to make a movie that looks like everything else, and not even the good everything else. They’re not aspiring to Raiders of the Lost Ark. They’re aspiring to Alien Vs Predator.
First of all, who decided that this blue/gray color was cool? Second, what is a diehard vampire fan supposed to enjoy about this, let alone a casual viewer? So priests are actually vampire killers now, and they do the exact same moves all the other vampire slayers did and kill the same wrinkly, toothy CGI monsters.
The characters are only superficially priests anyway. Priest (Paul Bettany) checks in with his boss at a confessional, he prays to God and has a cross tattooed on his nose, but there’s no religious mythology about it. He defies your standard hooded counsel in a dirty future. Sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet) says he heard Priest was the best vampire killer, in case the fact that he’s the star of the movie doesn’t tell us that already.
They’re hunting for Lucy (Lily Collins), a farm girl kidnapped by Black Hat (Karl Urban), a former priest who Priest (Bettany) lost in the war. Priest and Hicks question suspects and fight vampires along the way. They keep talking about the old days as if that’s atmosphere. Priestess (Maggie Q) hooks up with them midway and tells us more about PTSD to be sure we all understand the priests’ struggles.
Look, you can use the formula if you’re celebrating it. Priest just feels stuck and the characters can’t get out. They even cut a decent trailer, so if they can make a trailer look cool, why not actually make a good movie? The point should be to create the coolest vampire action you can imagine, not just do the moves you saw other vampire killers do in other movies no one cared about. Priest may step on flying rocks in mid air and throw some crosses as ninja stars, but that’s still way behind the action of movies like Shoot ‘Em Up or Hobo with a Shotgun, let alone what the Thais are doing.
Priest tries to be Clint Eastwood so everything he says is a slogan about being numb to violence. Black Hat is all about “join me, join me…” Maybe if bad guys want friends so badly they should stop being evil. There’s only one good Maggie Q fight, in the desert by the train tracks. They even do the Cliffhanger “I won’t let you go” bit, although the audience for this movie wasn’t born yet in 1993 so it’s new to them.
The crew may have put a lot into the sets but they just look like generic rubble. See, it takes just as long to construct a dump as it does to make Blade Runner. Jericho actually ends up looking like a real post-apocalyptic town, for the two scenes we get to see it.
It just makes me sad to think director Scott Stewart and all the artists under him had high ambitions and substantial resources… for this. They think they’re making their ultimate vision, but I bet the studio knew the whole time. The executives probably figured out exactly what they needed to spend to make the bare minimum profit from an audience that already existed, so they didn’t strive for more.