Prophecy, The (United States, 1994)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Every once in a while, someone gets the bright idea of making an apocalyptic horror film. The Omen series is probably the best-known example of this sub-genre, but it's not the only one. Now, The Prophecy, with its tale of warring angels and lost Bible chapters, joins the group. There's a twist here, however. In the past, Lucifer has always been the bad guy. This time around, he's actually on the "good" side. Of course, that's only because it suits his purposes, but still...

Unfortunately, Viggo Mortensen's Devil doesn't appear until very late in the proceedings, and by then, The Prophecy has long since worn out its welcome. The script, with its odd combination of Biblical ramblings and gory violence, is as silly as they come. Characters take all sorts of supernatural occurrences as a matter of due course. No one seems bothered by the sudden appearances of angels or the knowledge that God has basically left humanity to "work out [its] own salvation" in rather literal terms. Even the unexpected apparition of Satan does little more than raise an eyebrow or two.

Not counting Lucifer, there are basically two angels floating around: Simon (Eric Stoltz) and Gabriel (Christopher Walken). The two are mortal (or should that be immortal?) enemies; thus, one of them doesn't make it to the climax. Before Simon departs his earthly body, he passes on his secret weapon -- the soul of the perfect killer -- to a young girl (Moriah Shining Dawn Snyder). Gabriel wants this weapon for his side, and is willing to rip the girl apart to get it. Standing in his way are a pair of puny humans -- seminary student-turned-cop Thomas (Atom Egoyan regular Elias Koteas) and the girl's teacher (Virginia Madsen), aided of course, by the aforementioned Lucifer, who has a grudge against Gabriel.

As dumb as The Prophecy is -- and it's very dumb -- at least the film rarely takes itself seriously. Writer/director Gregory Widen apparently realized that the best way to approach the story is to take the campy road, which is exactly what he has done. The Prophecy is frequently irreverent and is littered with lines of dialogue which equate to the director winking at his audience. Christopher Walken's wonderfully droll performance is perfect for his role as the "killer of firstborns".

Alas, Walken is really the only interesting performer. Koteas and Madsen are boring, and most of the unnecessarily protracted story centers around their characters. We never feel anything for them, so all the screen time used attempting to develop their personalities becomes wasted. In fact, "waste" is a good way to describe most of The Prophecy. In the final analysis, this is a bad movie with a good sense of humor.

Prophecy, The (United States, 1994)

Run Time: 1:38
U.S. Release Date: 1995-09-01
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Profanity)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1