(director/writer: Gregory Widen; cinematographers: Richard Clabaugh/Bruce Douglas Johnson; editor: Sonny Baskin; music: David C. Williams ; cast: Christopher Walken (Gabriel), Elias Koteas (Thomas Dagget), Virginia Madsen (Katherine Henley), Eric Stoltz (Simon), Viggo Mortensen (Lucifer), Moriah Shining Dove Snyder (Mary), Adam Goldberg (Jerry), Amanda Plummer (Rachael) ; Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Joel Soisson; Overseas Film and First Look Pictures; 1995)
“It had great potential, but turned too ridiculous for comfort.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The directorial debut of Gregory Widen, the screenwriter of the Highlander, bases the low-budget bizarre supernatural film on his original horror story. It had great potential, but turned too ridiculous for comfort. But it deserves credit for its ambitions to try to come up with a Big Idea (even if it fails) and its willingness to take risks in coming up with such a novel fantasy metaphysical thriller about killer angels on the loose stirring up a possible apocalypse.
After a war in Heaven, a long time ago, the archangel Lucifer (Viggo Mortensen) was banished to his own domain. But a second heavenly conflict occurs that is not known and leaves the world in danger. This event brings to Earth the fallen archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken), in revolt against God because of his jealousy that God favors humans over angels. Gabriel tries to take the evil soul of a deceased war criminal veteran American colonel of the Korea conflict, who is protected from him inside a little Indian girl (Moriah Shining Dove Snyder). The trumpet playing angel plans to organize an army to fight for control over humanity. To do this wicked thing he gets various souls to be his flunkies and handle things in the modern world that are beyond his reach-like driving a car. Adam Goldberg is Gabriel’s flunky young driver, who is verbally abused by the nasty talking angel.
Thomas Dagget (Elias Koteas), a would-be priest, not getting ordained over a series of nightmarish holy visions, is now working as a police homicide detective. Because of his religious background and the book he wrote on angels that is found at a grizzly crime scene, a confused Dagget gets involved in the case when visited by the good renegade angel Simon (Eric Stoltz) and told of the fight he had with the bad renegade angel. It’s up to Dagget to stop Gabriel from snatching the soul protected by the Indian girl.
Walken walks through the bullshit story to give a terrific performance. Mortensen comes on in the end to give an inspiring performance, but his part is too small to match Walken’s. This is a good vs. evil pic you can’t take seriously, it’s tedious at times and it’s not witty enough to cover-up all its missteps.
REVIEWED ON 8/22/2015 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/