Movie Review: The Order (2003)
“Behind the disguise of good hides the soul of evil.”
The Order (2003)
Director: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Shannyn Sossamon
Synopsis: A young priest travels to Rome to investigate the mysterious death of the head of his order.
It’s difficult to believe The Order was written Brian Helgeland, the same guy who wrote L. A. Confidential. It looks like the attempt of a talented but inexperienced first timer and, quite frankly, makes little sense at all. Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You, The Dark Knight) plays a young priest sent to Rome to investigate the death of the leader of his order. During his investigations, he finds strange marks on his leader’s body which suggest he was visited by a mythical character named the Sin Eater, who sucks the sins out of the dying body of those who have been excommunicated.
Well, that much was clear, anyway. What I couldn’t understand – possibly because I wasn’t paying attention when they explained it – is what, exactly, was the nature of the evil within the Sin Eater which the church seeks to eradicate. And why did those two kids – demons apparently – keep hanging around? And how did Ledger get Mara (Shannyn Sossamon), his female companion who had just escaped from prison, out of the country on a commercial flight? And how did he get that body out of the morgue? And what happened to the driver of the vehicle whose windscreen the demon that Mark Addy was chasing crashed through?
So many questions – and absolutely no answers – make The Order not only impenetrable but also quite dull. The central idea is quite good in a comic book-ish kind of way. And the early scenes, in which priests are depicted as some kind of superheroes battling demons in contemporary cities, are quite good. But Mark Addy comes across as too laddish to be a believable priest, and there’s too much evidence of a post-production editing suite panic to make something intelligible out of a collection of only vaguely connected scenes that give this one the strong whiff of a loser.
(Reviewed 30th November 2011)