Priest (2011)

Posted on: January 4, 2012

We picked this up at Redbox the other day and I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t just a low-budget “vampires rule the world” flick. It has been a while since I enjoyed a movie this much.

Priest stars Paul Bettany as the titular character. As shown in an animated prologue, mankind has been at war with vampires for centuries. This never-ending war all but destroyed the planet. Eventually, “The Church” rose up to rule civilization and they developed highly skilled and powerful warriors, dubbed Priests, to do battle with the vampires. Eventually, the Priests succeed in the war and the remaining vamps are shuffled off to reservations. Seeing no further need of them, The Church disbands the Priests, considering them an embarrassment.

The world portrayed in Priest is sort of Mad Max meets high tech, with a liberal dose of the Old West tossed into the mix. Most people live in huge, walled cities, with small towns occasionally cropping up out in the wastelands. The cities are enormous, with tons of people all vying for space. Think of the cyberpunk style city life as portrayed in Bladerunner and you’d not be far off the mark. The world outside the cities though is nothing more than blasted desert wastes. The vampire reservations are mostly underground, with small buildings housing their “familiars,” who are humans who have been infected with the vampire virus.

Our hero, if you want to call him that, has a lonely existence in the city. He is contacted by Hicks (Cam Gigandet), who is a sheriff from a nearby small settlement. Hicks tells the Priest about a vampire attack that killed the Priest’s brother and ex-wife and that his niece is missing, believed to have been kidnapped by the vampires. The Priest goes to The Church authorities to ask to be reinstated so he can officially track down the vampires. They don’t believe him and order him to not interfere further.

Naturally this doesn’t sit well with the Priest and he goes off to find his niece, accompanied by Hicks as well as a Priestess (Maggie Q) who has also defected from The Church’s authority. I’m not giving away a huge spoiler by saying the main villain not only knows they’re coming, he’s counting on it.

What follows is a ton of action and great fun. Being Priests, much of their weaponry is centered upon religious themes, such as small crosses that double as shuriken. The fight scenes are well done, not overly choreographed wire walking nonsense. The Priests are shown to have almost superhuman agility and fighting skills but again, this isn’t overdone.

Mad Max + Bladerunner + Blade = Priest. There is so much that could have gone wrong with that formula but I think they pulled it off rather well.

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