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The Order Review

By Shawn McKenzie 09/06/2003

Many movies offend religious people on a sacrilegious level.  The new movie The Order offends me because it goes against my religion:  good entertainment.


Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger) is a young priest in New York who practices a form of Catholicism that hasn’t been used in years, involving Latin and stuff.  Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller), who doesn’t know how to take his style, represents him and his practice in the Church.  When Alex hears that the head of his order, his mentor Father Dominic (Francesco Carnelutti), has died, he goes to Rome to investigate the death.  He asks a fellow priest and friend named Thomas Garrett (Mark Addy) to meet him there and help him with the investigation.  Before he leaves for Rome, a woman named Mara Sinclair (Shannyn Sossamon) reenters Alex’s life.  She has recently escaped from a mental institution after having been put there for trying to kill Alex.  He had performed an exorcism on her before she tried to kill him, but he is still attracted to her anyway (maybe homicidal acts are his aphrodisiac.)  The Church won’t bury Dominic in the church cemetery because he had been ex-communicated and he committed suicide, which is a cardinal sin.  Alex looks at the body and sees some strange marks on it, which makes him suspect that it was a murder and not suicide.  Alex and Thomas’s investigation leads them to a mysterious man named William Eden (Benno Fürmann), otherwise known as the Sin Eater.  He offers to eat the sins of people who have been shunned by the Church through a weird ceremony of chalk markings, a cross on their forehead, and breadcrumbs on their chest.  As Alex gets to know Eden better, he starts to realize a possible conspiracy involving him and endangering Thomas and Mara.  He needs to figure out a way to stop Eden and save his friends and himself.


Boy was this movie a stinker!  I read about all of the problems the production went through, and it sounds like the project was doomed from the start.  It was originally supposed to come out in January, but rumors are that it was pushed back because the special effects looked goofy.  If this is the improved version, I wonder how bad they were before!  It was also originally titled The Sin Eater, but I’m guessing tests revealed the title to be a little silly sounding.  Why they would instead give it the same name as a bad direct-to-video Jean Claude Van Damme movie, I don’t know.  The dialogue was laughable as well, which actually made Addy funnier in this movie than in a whole season of his horrible CBS show “Still Standing.”


I’m actually surprised that the team who brought us the highly enjoyable A Knight’s Tale two years ago came out with this clunker.  That movie was also written and directed by Brian Helgeland, and starred Ledger, Sossamon, and Addy as well.  I liked it because I thought the creative use of modern music to act as the background for a jousting tale was original.  I actually liked it better than the Oscar-nominated Moulin Rouge, which came out the same year and did the modern music thing too, but it was a musical and just too weird.  I guess sometimes you can’t force a winning formula by using the same people.

Some other critics are not liking 2003’s slate of movies, but I don’t think they are too bad.  I’m actually kind of glad The Order came out, because I needed some more really bad reviews.  Sometimes it is just as fun to write a bad review as it is to write a good one (it makes up for the money I spent watching this disaster, since it wasn’t screened for critics.)  In the Church of Entertain Your Brain, I order you not to see this movie!  If you do, you will suffer the wrath of wasted money and my barrage of “I told you so’s!”

Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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