The Prophecy

This w/u is naturally spoiler-free

Directed & Written By: Gregory Widen
Release Date: 1995
Genre Keywords: Fantasy, Religion, Suspense, Thriller, Horror, Apocalypse
Starring:
 Christopher Walken           ....   Gabriel
 Elias Koteas                 ....   Thomas Daggett
 Virginia Madsen              ....   Katherine
 Eric Stoltz                  ....   Simon
 Viggo Mortensen              ....   Lucifer
 Amanda Plummer               ....   Rachael
 Moriah Shining Dove Snyder   ....   Mary

Did you ever notice how in the Bible when God needed to punish someone ... make an example, or whenever God needed a killing ... He sent an angel. Have you ever wondered what a creature like that must be like? Your whole existence praising your God but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?"

Thomas Daggett, intro to Prophecy


It wasn't really the premise of the movie, nor the rough plot that drew me to this - it was the fact that someone was actually making a non-biblical (extra-biblical?) religiously themed film. Treating the Bible as a historical document, as it were, less than the actual word of God sort of thing, and then making a movie based on a "what if" situation - instant historical fiction with a dose of the supernatural.

The "what if" in this case is not an uncommon one amongst writers; Neil Gaiman tackles a Lucifer who is bored in the Sandman and one that went insane in Neverwhere, Terry Pratchett wrote about a fallen angel (well, more like one that sauntered down) becoming friends with an actual one, and James Morrow kills off Jehovah altogether, and Preacher...well, you have to read that one yourself to believe it. The Prophecy asks: What if Lucifer had a sympathizer (with his belief that angels should come first in grace, and humans a distant second)? A whole host (heh, heh, host...) of sympathizers in this case? And they felt strongly enough about the monkeys to have it out with the big G once and for all?

Well, you'd have a war, wouldn't you, just like the first time. Except what if this time the scales were more evenly balanced, and the head cheese, as seems to be increasingly indicated by the New Testament, could not/did not want to step in to appease his angels? Well, they'd need an edge to beat the other side, wouldn't they. An extra special edge. And around the search for this - on Earth - the entire movie revolves.

Throw in a disillusioned ex-priest who was given a glimpse of heaven and rejected it and a unique take on angels themselves (especially as depicted in the visual arts), and you get a decent movie that nevertheless has to rely on its intrinsic quirkiness to carry it through its at-times overly self-indulgent plot. Walken, naturally, dominates the film and gives an excellent performance, but the rest of the cast doesn't really slouch either, accepting the near-apocalyptic events with a satisfying, very human, amount of bewilderment and resigned acceptance.

Amanda Plummer does a fantastic job as Gabriel's human (well, sort of) lackey. Elias Koteas appears sufficiently tormented without drawing it out too much. Viggo Mortensen's brief appearance as Lucifer is powerful, swift, dark and very effective. Finally, considering that a child actor can make or break a film, Moriah Shining Dove Snyder's performance borders on superb.

Good lines, good acting, lots of attention to detail (angelic script!) and a lot of quirkiness (you'll love the whole perching thing) carries the whole shebang across the movie-gaping (you know, the parts where something incredible happens and the actors have to stand and stare at it incredulously instead of oh, running away or, say, grabbing a shotgun and blasting the bad guy) and occasional descent into cheese. The philosophising is not too hard on the viewer, and the resolution satisfactory.

Watch it if you a) like Christopher Walken, or b) like vaguely iconoclastic, quirky entertainment. The movie may upset you should you think in black and white (angels are good, Satan is bad), and you should probably avoid it. Fans of more incisive cinema (Sundance vs. Holywood) will most likely cringe a lot.