The Order

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Rating: R

Starring:
Heath Ledger as Alex Bernier
Shannyn Sossamon as Mara Sinclair
Benno Fürmann as William Eden
Mark Addy as Thomas Garrett
Peter Weller as Driscoll
Francesco Carnelutti as Dominic
Mattia Sbragia as Apathetic Bishop
Mirko Casaburo as Little Boy
Giulia Lombardi as Little Girl
Richard Bremmer as Bookstore Owner
Cristina Maccà as Sister Franca
Paola Emilia Villa as Sister Marie

Special Features:
Commentary by director Brian Helgeland

Theatrical trailer

Unrated deleted scenes and dailies with optional director’s commentary

Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 102 Minutes

Synopsis:
A conflicted, rebellious priest travels to Rome to investigate the strange death of his mentor. The young priest, a troubled artist with whom he shares a turbulent past, and his closest friend and colleague discover the mysterious death may be the work of the Sin Eater, an ancient figure who plays God on earth by absolving the unforgivable of their sins outside the Church, allowing great evil to go unpunished.

The Order is rated R for violent images, sexuality and language.

The Movie:
I generally don’t like movies about priests and religious figures battling demons, ghosts, or other assorted evil. I didn’t like The Exorcist, Stigmata, The Omen, or any of the other similar films. The Order was no exception. Don’t get me wrong, I like Heath Ledger, Peter Weller, and even A Knight’s Tale (which most of this cast and crew worked on together previously). It’s just that this movie did absolutely nothing for me. It looked good, sounded good, and was well acted, but it never engaged me.

One of my first problems with this movie was its depiction of priests. They are shown using profanity on a regular basis. In fact, in one scene a priests utters “f**king”, then immediately attempts to drive off a ghost in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That didn’t see very consistent, even if the character was a “rogue” priest. I’m not Catholic and I know that priests aren’t popular these days, but it seemed a bit disrespectful. Later on Ledger’s character is shown renouncing his vows as a priest and doing the wild thang with his lady friend at the drop of the hat. While I won’t say it couldn’t happen, I will say it was a bit abrupt in the story. I had other problems with the concept of the Sin Eater and some of the theology presented, but that’s more an issue of my personal beliefs which I won’t get into here.

The movie is also terribly confusing. I had a hard time following the plot despite doing my best to understand what was going on. The story always seemed to be several steps ahead of my comprehension. Only after seeing the whole movie and reading the back DVD cover did I think I had a handle on what happened. This is not a movie you can expect to half follow and understand what is going on.

On a lighter note, I thought Heath Ledger did a fine job of acting in this movie. I like his work as an actor and I look forward to seeing him in other material. I’m also a fan of Peter Weller’s. I loved Robocop and Buckaroo Banzai, so it was neat to see him in another film.

While the effects in the film aren’t awe inspiring, the locations are very beautiful. This film was shot in Rome and Caserta Palace (where Star Wars – Episode I was shot). They make beautiful, exotic backdrops to the action. They are also sufficiently creepy when necessary.

Overall, if you haven’t seen The Order, you’re not missing anything. Even if you liked A Knight’s Tale, this is a very different movie that you may or may not go for. Heath Ledger fans will thoroughly enjoy seeing him in this starring role, though.

The Extras:
There are a minimal number of extras included on this DVD. However, they have generously offered both the full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats on the same DVD. Gotta like that at least.

Commentary by director Brian Helgeland – This is a disappointingly dry commentary by the director. His voice is very monotone and he gives a heavy emphasis on the technical details of making the movie. He tells you the stage number they shot on for certain scenes, where everything was shot, and other mundane details, but very little about the plot. I was looking for more insight into the story itself and there’s very little of this in the commentary.

Unrated deleted scenes and dailies with optional director’s commentary – There are six or seven deleted scenes included on this DVD. One scene shows the priest Dominic getting bread for the Sin Eater, thus hinting at what he was really up to. Showing this early in the movie would have spoiled some of the revelations in the film. Another scene shows Alex giving last rites to a dying boy. Another scene shows the Sin Eater visiting a maternity ward in a hospital. A final one shows the two priests walking through the strange club and more of what is going on inside. None of these scenes expand on the story much more. You can also view the deleted scenes with commentary from the director. Also included are dailies from the set. You can watch one of the major death scenes from the movie in its raw form from every conceivable angle. While nice for completeness sake, it’s not terribly exciting.

The Bottom Line:
I wouldn’t recommend buying this film, but it might make a decent renter if you’re curious. Heath Ledger fans will enjoy it most.

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