The titular and unnamed main character in Priest is a member of an order of warrior priests that came about during the initial vampire war. They turned the tide in a battle that had left humanity on the losing side. After the vampires had been holed up on reservations (a movement that seems rather illogical to me; why not just kill them?) the priests were disbanded when the church’s leaders felt threatened. Forced to reintegrate back into a dystopian society where the church rules all and “To go against the church is to go against God” is the mantra that all live by, they find themselves useless.
Then one day, Priest gets word from the desert outlands that his niece has been captured, and he goes to hunt down the vampires who did it.
An enjoyable popcorn film
Priest is an enjoyable film. It has many of the elements of the great blockbusters of our times and has an interesting world full of elements both new and old. The vampires are blind creatures that feed on blood and are more animal than sentient being. Despite this, they are fast, strong and intelligent—in a predatory way.
A subpar plot and script
The plot and script are what really let this film down. Badass hero going off to rescue a young girl from the clutches of evil is a tried trope that doesn’t lend itself to vivid storytelling. Furthermore, the script is riddled with cliche lines and groan-worthy dialogue that is cheesy at best.
Paul Bettany is a great actor. He has a great range in what he can play, from characters absurdly comical to deadly and serious. He takes this grim and stoic role of an unnamed character and makes it into a person. Despite this, the dialogue does little to help him. The rest of the characters range from average to good but with none standing out particularly.
Interesting and vivid worldbuilding
A dystopian city ruled by a autocratic and prying church is a thing to be feared. When the personal ideals of men are wrapped up in sanctity and piety, it hampers progress, as shown in Priest. Outside the reach of the Church, a rugged and desparate motley of people eke out a living in the barren outlands. The technology manages to be both advanced and primitive in its own way, never straying outside of its logical fields; that lends it a sense of believability.
The CGI and effects of Priest are beautiful and visceral. The vampires ooze savagery and menace, and the smog covered skyline of Cathedral City is an ominous sight. Combined with intense and well choreographed fight scenes, it parades some definite eye candy for viewers.
While Priest is certainly not the best film of the year, it is certainly an enjoyable genre film that packs action and worldbuilding into a short popcorn flick with its own spin on horror.