In a world run by church decree, a lone warrior turns
against God to save his niece from a nest of vampires.
Directed by Scott Stewart
Written by Cory Goodman
Starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q,
Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer
Based on the graphic novel series by Min-Woo Hyung
I'm a huge fan of vampire movies. There are so many different ways to interpret the romantic undead, and the concept that Priest establishes is pretty brilliant. A world where man and vampire have been at war for centuries, and the church trains warriors to fight the dead. But now, with the war over and mankind safe under church decree, these "priests" are ostracized and put out to pasture. It's like Blade meets Mad Max with a little bit of 1984 sprinkled in for good measure. Unfortunately, the film doesn't do the concept justice, and lacks solid character development, and any compelling narrative.
Our hero is a strong, determined priest (Bettany) who learns that his niece (Collins) has been kidnapped by vampires, led by his old friend turned vampire, Black Hat (Urban). The priest joins forces with Lucy's boyfriend Hicks (Gigandet) to track these vamps down, but in order to do so, the priest must first denounce God and the church. The story jumps all over the place, introducing neat characters only to axe them immediately. In the end, we get a pretty neat climactic train fight, but Karl Urban hams up his villain so hard that it's impossible to feel a sense of urgency.
I really wanted to like Priest, but it's so low-effort and just feels weak. The vampires are basically just vicious demons devoid of personality or uniqueness. The characters are bland and forgettable, and despite Paul Bettany's best efforts, the priest is a boring protagonist. It's no wonder a franchise never emerged from this unfortunate bomb.