May 19, 2011
“The Book of Eli,” “Firefly” (a TV series), and 2011's “Priest” all have something in common. They all portray a religious man who is an undercover ninja. However, only the latter fails to deliver an interesting or fair plot in a genre that practically writes itself.
Paul Bettany's second Christianity-meets-apocalypse movie in as many years, following “Legion” (2010), enters into a war-torn world between humans and vampires. Bettany's character, known only as Priest, was a champion for the movie's myopic version of the Catholic Church in the victorious war against vampires. However, his loyalty to the church is tested when his niece, Lucy (Lily Collins), is kidnapped by a new brood of vampires and the church prevents him from exacting justice.
Priest presents himself before the governing council of the church – the Monsignors – asking them to reinstate his powers as ninja-priest so he can pursue the animal-like vampires and rescue Lucy. Chief Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) tersely refuses Priest's request denying that vampires are still active.
In spite of the evidence, Orelas defiantly declares that the war between man and vampires is over – thanks to an army of priests … like Priest. Yet, despite Priest's great sacrifice for the church in the war, Orelas orders him to stay within the city walls or he will be excommunicated.