2003 - R - 102 Mins.
|Director: Brian Helgeland
|Producer: Craig Baumgarten, Adam Merims, Brian Helgeland, Tim Van Rellim
|Written By: Brian Helgeland
|Starring: Jon Laurimore, Giulia Lombardi, Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy
|Review by: Joe Rickey
The Order, starring Heath Ledger (A Knight’s Tale), Shannyn Sossamon (Also A Knight’s Tale, Rules of Attraction), and Mark Addy (A Knight’s Tale) is directed by Brian Helgeland who directed… you guessed it, A Knight’s Tale. Alex Bernier is a priest in New York City who happens to preach a form of Catholicism that has recently left the jurisdiction of the church. When he hears that the head of his particular order has died in Rome, he sets off to the foreign country. He asks his fellow priest Thomas, to meet him there and he brings along Mara, his female friend. Upon investigating, he believes that the deceased was, in fact murdered. Through further investigation he discovers a sinister conspiracy that leads to the Pope.
The Order is a modern take on the longtime religious thriller sub genre popularized by films such as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. A really pathetic modern take, to be more specific as to the type of film The Order is. There hardly is anything that you will find in The Order that resembles an example of quality. I guess that the cinematography is halfway decent because it oozes atmosphere. The type of dark and foreboding atmosphere that a film like The Order needs. Too bad that the atmosphere is the only good thing about what is a depressingly formulaic film.
The film could have been so much better one would assume because Helgeland has proven that he can write and direct entertaining movies. It seems though that he lost his way with The Order. Maybe, he never found his way. The film starts with a whimper when it should be a bang as the head of the order dies under mysterious consequences. The scene is set up so poorly that it is much too abrupt to be anything near effective. The film progresses to get worse as there is little background given to even the film’s main characters as you know little beyond one or two facts about anyone. The film also makes the mistake of spouting off religious themed babble in Latin without giving the audience knowledge of what everything means. Therefore, it becomes easy to zone out when the characters speak in Latin to one another because you won’t understand what they are saying unless you happen to have a Latin dictionary handy.
The actors don’t help matters. Heath Ledger has occasionally shown to have some talent in lighter films but here he is rather pathetic when he has to be a dark and brooding person. A particular scene in which he is asked to show emotion through crying is quite painful to watch unfold because it is evident that Ledger hasn’t been trained in the art of dramatic acting. Ms. Sossamon doesn’t perform much better because she has been given a severely underwritten role and does herself in by underplaying everything almost to the point of being comatose. As the comic relief, Mark Addy does what he can with a one-note character.
Overall, The Order is a complete waste of your time because of unfocused direction and a muddy script replete with religious mumbo jumbo that means little to the audience.