These two films were released in cinemas earlier this year, but I’ve only now gotten around to seeing them. Also, neither of them merits a full scale review, so I’ll be taking together an exorcism thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and a shoot-em-up Jason Statham vehicle.
Perhaps it would just be better if people stopped making films about sharks and exorcisms. In the same way that Jaws has never been surpassed, The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973) was the first and ultimately the ultimate, best exorcism film ever. Also because the two sequels and the prequel are the stuff of really, really bad legends.
The Rite does not venture that deeply into the cesspool constituted by the wide corpus of films about demonic possession and unorthodox catholic priests. It actually is quite suspenseful most of the time. Director Mikael Hafstrom takes his time setting up the plot and introducing the characters of experienced exorcist Lucas (Hopkins) and young-priest-with-a-crisis-of-faith Colin O’Donoghue. And I must say it feels nice to see a Welshman and an Irishman starring in an American film directed by a Swede.
Unfortunately The Rite goes the same way as lesser fare in the genre in its last half hour. Have the possession scenes been relatively restricted, to great effect, until then, in the last act Hafstrom squishes in the ‘evil stuff’ that the studio probably wanted, and he letsHopkins go all the way. As a result the film, which opened so nicely, ends in a mess.
This is a bloke’s film. The bloke is the kind of (young) man whose main interests are beer, tits, football, and Jason Statham stabbing people in the head. Very few men are full-time blokes, but almost all of us are a bit blokey, sometimes. So films like this, which have Jason Statham, and beautiful women, and strong violence, which can be understood even under influence, will always find an audience.
They are not ridiculously expensive, and they will always brake even. So why not, for a change, write it properly? The Mechanic (dir. Simon West), about a hit man (Statham) and his relation to his old mentor’s troubled son (Ben Foster), is unfortunately not written properly. There is no mystery and no tension, although the characters and their relation surely have the potential for it. Instead, there are just plenty of excessive killings.
Oh, and why would Jason Statham, the bloke’s ideal of action hero and girl magnet, have to pay for sex with a prostitute? Surely Jason Statham would get it for free?