After 12 years murdering men, women and children in the Crusades, Behman (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) have a crisis of conscience and desert the army. They end up in a remote town, where they agree to escort an accused witch (Foy) to a distant monastery that has the only incantation that can destroy her and halt the Black Death. They're accompanied by a resolute priest (Moore) and his sidekick (Thomsen), then joined by an altar boy (Sheehan) determined to become a knight. Of course the journey is fraught with surprises.
While director Sena makes sure the film looks quite good even with the dodgy effects work, Schut's script throws everything it can think of at the screen.
The medieval setting allows for all manner of movie cliches, from ludicrous battle montages to oozing plague pustules (Lee is barely recognisable).
Meanwhile, the set pieces stretch to include the standard rickety suspension-bridge scene and flying zombie monks. "We're gonna need more holy water", indeed.
But even within this schlocky genre, the plot is so preposterous that it boggles the mind. Nothing that happens makes any sense, even if you suspend the need for internal logic. Only one copy of this insanely long incantation? An all-powerful witch who can't do whatever she wants? At least we have a constant underscore to tell us whether the scene is meant to be scary or dramatic, because otherwise we might think it was a comedy spoof.
Even so, the silliest thing on the screen is Cage's hair: long blond ringlets when everyone else has a macho buzz cut. But then, if Cage didn't have a barmy hair-do, we might try to take the film seriously for a split second. This would be a big mistake, even with fairly decent acting across the board. At least the fine supporting cast members seem to be having a great time watching Cage chomp shamelessly on the scenery. Alas, it's not quite nutty enough to be a guilty pleasure.
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th January 2011
Box Office USA: $24.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $88.1M
Distributed by: Relativity Media
Production compaines: Atlas Entertainment, Relativity Media
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 10%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 104
IMDB: 5.4 / 10
Director: Dominic Sena
Screenwriter: Bragi Schut
Starring: Nicolas Cage as Behman, Ron Perlman as Felson, Ulrich Thomsen as Eckhardt, Christopher Lee as Cardinal D'Ambroise, Fernanda Dorogi as Givaudon, Stephen Graham as Hagamar, Rebekah Kennedy as Peasant Trurk Girl, Matt Devere as Sergeant in Arms, Robert Michael Sheehan as Kay, Claire Foy as The Girl, Stephen Campbell Moore as Debelzaq, Rory McCann as Soldier Commander
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