30 August 2001 | noir guy
Portentous religious conspiracy thriller
Director/writer Stuart (PREACHING TO THE PERVERTED) Urban's portentous contemporary religious conspiracy thriller marks a return to feature film production for Britain's Romulus Films (THE AFRICAN QUEEN, OLIVER!, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL) for the first time since 1974's THE ODESSA FILE. The story concerns a young couple (he Jake, the computer hacker ex-con son of an enigmatic billionaire akin to Rupert Murdoch, she Mira, a brainy alchemist) searching for a religious relic ('a loculus') purported to possess mythical powers. This sends them spinning around Europe and Asia following alcehmical, astrological and religious clues, all the while stalked by Udo Kier's supremely villainous 'Grand Master' as Urban stirs all these ingredients into a heady brew, cutting back and forth in time and place with no lack of visual style, finally bringing them to the boil in an apocalyptic climax with implications for the future of mankind. Unfortunately the film, ambitious in scope and breadth, has a reach which exceeds its grasp; especially as it ultimately seems to pay off as a two-hour recruitment film for the Catholic church. Dull leads don't help, although there's sterling support from the enigmatic Terence Stamp as Jake's father, Celia Imrie as Mum, Derek Jacobi as a weaselly University librarian and Ron Moody as Sir Isaac Newton (yes, really). Good to see an independent British film aiming high, but difficult to imagine who'll pay to see this generic mishmash (it lacks sufficient impressive horror or action setpieces for a start). After all, if Demi Moore in THE SEVENTH SIGN and Johnny Depp in THE NINTH GATE couldn't bring in the punters, what hope does this similarly themed and thoughtful, if highly-flawed, fantasy have? File under 'Interesting Failure'.