A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating: Rated R for violent images, sexuality and language
Starring:Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Shannyn Sossamon
Directed By:Brian Helgeland
One of the creepiest things known to man can be the truth. Sometimes the truth seems unattainable, and that is where religion comes into play at it’s fullest of forms. The faith of God, the belief of Good and Evil in the world is a theme that has been played out in movies for generations, each film still finding new things to examine, more what ifs and mysterious happenings. Heath Ledger’s latest flick, The Order tired to do just the same as it’s predecessors, scare the living daylights out of you and make you question your religious beliefs.
Alex is a young priest who is unsure of his true devotion to God. He is from an ancient Order of Priests named the Carolingians, and it just so happens that their headmaster has mysteriously passed away. Most everyone in the church believes that it was an act of suicide, but Alex begins to believe it is the work of a “Sin Eater,” An ancient mythical being that forgives the sins of the dammed in order to send them to heaven. Alex sets out to unravel the truth, and as he soon discovers sometimes the truth isn’t exactly what you want it to be.
The one thing the Order has going for it is the religious overtones. People have been creeped out for years by satanic rituals and strange religious “mishaps” that lead to the rise of evil and corruption that lies in the deepest corners of the Catholic Church. Films such as End of Days, Stigmata and Frailty have lead viewers to think of all the possibilities and what ifs about their religious beliefs. The Order doesn’t stray far from this type of film either. It makes sure that it keeps an overall Dark tone to it, and doesn’t really provide us with any characters that are truly good at heart. It makes sure we realize that every character is guilty of a sin, whether it is a question of their own faith, unfaithfulness, or the sale of their soul for personal gain. It was basically telling the audience every character is damned to hell, and there is no escape of such things. Mix that in with the rituals of “The Sin Eater” whose morals are put to question and you have a movie that from a religious aspect will creep you out.
But aside from the religious overtones there isn’t much in The Order that is that frightful. Our Main character, Alex played by Heath Ledger was not very convincing at all. In fact I think the most frightening thing about this film was trying to believe that Heath Ledger was a young soul searching priest. He just didn’t seem to fit the role, and his character lacked charisma and any real feeling. I think that if given to the right actor we may have found a little more in the Alex character, but Ledger just didn’t push the envelope. His performance was weak, but I blame that on the transition between being a teen heartthrob into a real actor. It is a step Ledger is trying to take, and even though it is in the right direction, the end result is still out of reach.
Other Characters in the Order really proved to be nothing outstanding, except for a decent performance put out by Benno Fürmann who played “The Sin Eater” named William Eden. Although his performance was not outstanding, he did a nice job in the role. Also joining the cast were the likes of Shannyn Sossamon and Mark Addy, two acquaintances of Ledger who worked on “A Knights Tale” with him years before. Neither of their performances proved to be outstanding, but they did compliment Ledger quite nicely in the grand scheme of things.
Rumors have it that the initial test screenings of The Order left people in laughter. The Special effects were so cheesy that the creators went back and did them all over again. Although from the looks of the film, they didn’t try overly hard. The sin eaters ritual held a certain “dark feeling” to it up until we saw the release of “sin” into the air, and how it writhed like a translucent snake around the Sin Eaters body. It was enough to make a person almost laugh. Although I am sure this is better than the original ways, I would like to think they could have done something with a little less cheesy of a feeling.
As far as a cinematic work goes, The Order is an average film. It doesn’t have a lot of outstanding shots, nor does it have camera work that will be remembered for years to come, but it does make use of fade in’s and fade outs quite well, and keeps an overall creepy vibe. Mix the camera work in with a good job of lighting (or lack there of in many cases) and a decent musical score, and cinematically this movie was up to par.
But in the end, The Order has been done before, and the result is the same. The Audience leaves with a creepy feeling, but none more than they did when they left End of Days, The Ninth Gate, Frailty or Stigmata. Plain and simple The Order Lacks originality and the performances are just too mediocre to give the film praise, although I do admit it was a novel attempt at being something of worth. But in the end if you are into yet another creepy religious movie and you like tales about Catholic corruption and uncovering evil then and don’t mind mediocrity then The Order just might be your cup of tea.