The future, humanity has won a centuries long battle against vampires thanks to a religious order of highly trained combatants. With the remaining bloodsuckers corralled into reservations and mankind living within the walled safety of a sprawling metropolis the threat is seemingly over. But when his niece is kidnapped following a vampire attack Priest must go against his masters and venture out into the wastelands to save her.
The Searchers, Mad Max, Judge Dredd and Jedi knights are just a few of the influences on Priest, a theological post-apocalyptic action movie that reunites director Scott Stewart with Paul Bettany. Always an engaging screen presence Bettany does what he can with the material at hand, which doesn't offer much during its 80 minute running time. Rushing through anything resembling plot and characterisation it focuses on action, which is unfortunate considering how derivative it all is.
Priest's predictable narrative includes a driven hard as nails hero, a quarrelsome side-kick, an unrequited love interest and a former friend turned enemy, all set against the backdrop of a futuristic western setting. There's certainly potential here for originality, or at the very least a fresh spin on a familiar formula, but every opportunity is wasted. Maybe it's a form of participatory cinema in which the audience are tasked with picking out all the films this shamelessly steals from?
Priest might appeal to fans of Underworld and Resident Evil and like those films is blatantly an attempt at another action/horror franchise. But it's a tedious comic book adaptation and it's hard to see it generating enough of a fanbase to make sequels viable. Another generic B-movie to add to your collection.