The Prophecy (1995)

I don’t even know what I was really expecting here. I more or less knew, deep down, that this wasn’t going to be good. It was undoubtedly going to be bad. No question. Sometimes I just get so caught up with the mere idea of a movie that, even when I know that it’s more than likely that it won’t be any good, and I’m going to resent myself for ever agreeing to watch it, I still feel compelled to do so. And that’s how I find myself here, in the shameful afterglow of having seen the first installment in the Prophecy series, starring Christopher Walken as an evil angel trying to ignite a war in Heaven via a plot device that in hindsight doesn’t really make much sense.

Obviously, the sole reason I had any interest in this… thing, was Christopher Walken. Some actors simply transcend from being ordinary actors and become something more, pop culture icons on their own right who exist as their own separate thing disconnected from normalcy, living on their own magnificent plane of existence. Christopher Walken is one such man belonging into this small, influential members only club. People like Walken have that incredibly dubious but alluring je ne sais qui that simply draws you in and makes you want to watch movies that clearly are awful, but you don’t listen to reason because it’s got someone special like Walken starring in it, so you just know you have to watch it. It could be something as inane as a two minute cameo. But you watch the movie anyway. And feel ashamed afterwards. And maybe cry, hiding your sobbing face under a pillow.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s just get to it: the Prophecy is a terrible movie. There’s nothing redeeming about it beyond Walken gracing us with his brief momentary presence as the story’s main antagonist, when he’s doing such illustrious things as hanging in front of a primary school, looking into the mouths of little kids (creepy or weird, the  jury is still out) and having them blow a trumpet, or invading a hospital to browse through the patients that are on the verge of dying and then using his power as the Angel of Death to force the people who just died to do his bidding on Earth, like accompany him to a local diner for meals or chauffeur him around. His brief on-screen moments where he’s just a goofy Angel of Death mucking about are delightful. But incredibly sparse and hardly worth sitting through what is otherwise almost agonizingly tedious movie.

Our supposed hero of the day in this abundantly religious tale is Elias Koteas, who as an actor is far from being a main lead material at the best of times, and this is very much not one of those rare instances. He plays a guy who was once upon a time a seminar student, but right when he was suppose to ordained, he for no apparent reason has visions about the war between angels. This experienc inspires him to becomes a homicide detective because, um, why not. It’s silly, but whatever, you could maybe build something around that, him having lost faith, etc. Except that never happens. He doesn’t really have any character arc here about his faith or anything, he’s mostly there just so the script can bounce info dumps on him while he chases the plot device like a headless chicken. Considering how Virginia Madsen’s character ends up feeling like she’s actually the one who plays a more important to the plot in the end, you have to wonder why even write Koteas’ character in the story. Wouldn’t it have been more exciting to just see Madsen, completely flabbergasted by the supernatural elements, fight for the well being of her young student as Gabriel tries to get the plot device that has been hidden inside the little girl’s body? Like, make the movie just be the Exorcist high on steroids and Walken. Why insert this generic cop stuff?

In any case, the script is very generic and forgettable, even by B-movie standards, throwing a lot of superfluous theology at you with little to no weight or intrigue behind it. As already mentioned, the story revolves around Walken as the angel Garbriel, who’s up to no good. It’s basically just a very tedious cat and mouse chase to capture a plot device that is revealed to be a soul of a recently deceased individual who was a really, really bad man while alive. How this soul is strong enough weapon to be able break the age old stalemate and plunge Heaven into another war akin to the one that sent Lucifer to Hell at the dawn of time isn’t really made clear. Or maybe they did mention it, but I was probably so bored out of my mind that I didn’t catch the internal logic or explanation. Who knows, or frankly, cares. The soul is pure MacGuffin, period.

On the positive side, I did like some of the small details, like the way all angels seem to share a habit of squatting on elevated surfaces, like a ledge of a building, construction sign, tombstone, etc. It added some small sense of internal consistency which was neat. Gabriel using recently departed people as his lackeys was also a bit cool and going to the hospital to find a new one after his previous henchman blows up in a trailer home. And then there was Viggo Mortensen playing Lucifer, which was kinda interesting in a ‘oh that’s kinda neat cameo’ type of way. But none of these things really make up for how bad the movie as a whole is. They aren’t even clips worth looking up on Youtube.

One can’t but to wonder how on Earth they’ve managed to turn this waste of film into a five movie franchise. I can see why something like Child’s Play or, I don’t know, the Leprechaun series could spin sequels. There’s a semi-decent premise that you can kinda see being appealing enough to try and make more of. But the Prophecy doesn’t have anything besides Walken calling humans monkeys and getting shot in the stomach a bunch of times while looking slightly annoyed. Even the stalemate war in Heaven stuff is so generic that you might as well rip off the idea and staple it into a new IP if you were interested in the concept. It’s just waste. Waste of Walken, waste of film and waste of my time.

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