Sunday, December 13, 2015

THE PROPHECY (1995)


Running time: 97 minutes

Directed and written by: Gregory Widen. Previous directing credits include an episode of Tales from the Crypt.......and that's it. Previous writing credits include The Highlander.

Starring:
Christopher Walken as "Gabriel". Previous credits include The Sentinel and Brainstorm.
Elias Koteas as "Thomas Daggett". Previous credits include Cyborg 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Virginia Madsen as "Katherine". Previous credits include Electric Dreams and Zombie High.
Eric Stoltz as "Simon". Previous credits include Surf II and The Fly II.
Viggo Mortensen as "Lucifer". Previous credits include an ABC Afterschool Special "High School Narc" and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

"Study your math, kids. Key to the universe." - Gabriel

So quoteth the angel Gabriel, come to earth to collect the soul of a calculating, cruel Army colonel who committed unspeakable atrocities in the Korean War; a soul that Gabriel needs to turn the tide in an ongoing war in Heaven. Sounds pretty serious, right? The angels are jealous that God turned his favor to humans, and Gabriel wants to set it back to the way it used to be, when God favored the angels. The problem for Gabriel is that another angel, Simon, doing God's work, has beaten Gabriel to the punch, and has taken the soul from the late colonel and hidden it in the body of a young girl named (appropriately) Mary. Gabriel has no issues with tearing a little girl apart to accomplish his goal. 

NYPD detective Thomas Daggett was once about to become a priest, when he saw visions of the violent struggle in Heaven and bolted on his faith. He investigates the death of a mysterious person who was found in an alley. This person is the angel Uziel, a lieutenant of Gabriel. Uziel was killed by Simon, who was protecting his secret knowledge of where the colonel's soul was located. Daggett puts his former ministerial teachings to use when looking into Uziel's belongings, which include an ancient bible. Daggett finds a newspaper clipping on the death of the colonel and heads to Arizona to look into the connection.

Katherine is a school teacher who is very protective of the young Mary. One day, Mary is playing hide and seek with friends in an abandoned building, and finds the angel Simon there, alone and visibly injured. We get a creepy segment where Simon and Mary bond. I say creepy because Eric Stoltz may as well have been playing the very-handsy Uncle Simon here. He transfers the soul of the colonel into Mary with a "kiss". I don't remember how we all felt about pedophiles in 1995, but there is no way they film this scene in 2015. Mary suddenly gets sick, and Katherine is probably worried about some hobo germs from Simon. Suddenly everybody arrives in town: Daggett, Gabriel and his pulled-from-the-brink-of-suicide human compatriot, Jerry, played by Adam Goldberg. Daggett eventually pieces everything together and it's not too far-fetched for a guy who used to be in the church. Then the third act of the film becomes about getting the soul out of little Mary and protecting her from Gabriel, who will stop at nothing to get to her.

The film has it's ups and downs. The tone of the film is philosophical and serious, but when Walken first steps on-screen it's like a reminder that this film is not to be taken too seriously. He just steps into the role of Gabriel, and delivers every line with an understated menace yet is so over-the-top that you can see the invisible wink he provides to the audience. His scenes with Goldberg as his "talking monkey" take the viewer out of the dark tone of the film temporarily. Walken is basically carrying everyone else on his back with this performance. Whenever he wasn't on-screen, you were left wanting it to hurry up and get to his next one. The scenes of young Mary spouting forth strategical military advantages were silly enough to make it memorably funny. Viggo Mortensen shows up late in the movie as Lucifer himself, and really played it up well. The two characters that needed to be evil, Gabriel and Lucifer, were really fleshed out by Walken and Mortensen. Kudos to those two actors. Creepy Uncle Eric Stoltz might make one cringe, especially when he says to Mary "I have something I want to give you". So, as you can see, there are some stand-out moments that can either make you wince in pain or make you laugh out loud. My advice: check your brain at the door.

Score: 3.5 out of 5. Walken carries this movie and it should go down as one of his better over-the-top performances. Without him, this movie fails.




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