The Order (2003)

order_2003_poster
The Order (2003)
  • Time: 102 min
  • Genre: Action | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Brian Helgeland
  • Cast: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Shannyn Sossamon

Storyline:

Alex Bernier (Ledger) is a member of an arcane order of priests known as Carolingians. When the head of the order dies, Alex is sent to Rome to investigate mysterious circumstances surrounding the death. The body bears strange marks on the chest which may or may not be the sign of a Sin Eater (Furmann), a renegade who offers absolution, last rites and therefore a path to heaven outside the jurisdiction of the church. Alex enlists the aid of his old comrade Father Thomas (Addy) and of a troubled artist (Sossamon) upon whom he once performed an exorcism. He soon finds himself plunged into a mystery only to find himself at the heart of it.

One review

  • I never really liked movies about religion, especially these creepy thrillers. Stigmata was bad, Bless the Child was worse, Lost Souls doesn’t have much promise (although I’m sure I’ll see it eventually), Time Changer was a preachy disaster, End of Days was like Terminator in reverse, etc. Luckily, The Order is more in the vein of something like Boondock Saints, a hugely violent film with strong religious undertones that had a lot of similar meanings as this movie did. But Boondock Saints was one of the good ones. The big question, however, comes up when you wonder how far can they go in creating religious justification for revenge. Boondock Saints, at least, had the right state of mind. That movie was geared more to the revenge idea, with less emphasis on the religious justification, than this one. The possibility (indeed, probability) was left open that the brothers were a couple of ultra-violent defenders of the Bible and God’s word, but the extension of the Word to bloody killing was made by them, not God or the Bible. The Order takes that one step farther.

    I won’t say that the movie tries to make the Bible justify killing in order to bring to sinners what would really come to them anyway in the afterlife, if that’s your belief. But what’s important to realize here is that the Sin Eater, as is dealt with heavily in the second half of this movie, is a spiritual creature. Sin Eating is a power, evidently passed on from one generation of Sin Eater to the next, while the two brothers in Boondock Saints are just two guys with vicious dedication to their beliefs. Heath Ledger, unfortunately, strikes me more as a hugely popular American actor placed into the movie maybe for name recognition than as an actor who fits the part of the character. He doesn’t for a even a second, for example, come across as an experienced priest with a traumatic past, but Ledger is not able to bring this across in his performance. He’s a member of an unfortunate breed of young actor that knows he’s popular and so doesn’t think he has to work for it anymore.

    You may remember too many of the actors in this movie from previous work by the director (as well as one too much from one of Paul Verhoeven’s massively successful gritty actions films which need not be name, since this particular actor has had the name of that movie permanently branded across his forehead, so you can just read it there), but I really don’t think that that is where the majority of the problem with this movie comes from. The Order had a great preview. It’s one of maybe 2-4 movies in my life that I’ve watched because of the preview I saw at the video store. But it seems that the religious thriller is a subgenre even more plagued with failure and repetition than horror, a genre which I’ve come to study more and more lately. The Order makes some interesting points and it has its moments, but as a whole it comes across as just another attempt to make a thriller out of some sort of divine justification for brutal punishment.

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