The Prophecy
directed by Gregory Widen
(Miramax, 1995)

There is a second war in Heaven. Angels, led by Gabriel, are tired of being God's errand boys while he favors those "talking monkeys" on Earth. But angels have no gift for strategy, so they're seeking the soul of a truly evil man and military mastermind to help them fight their war.

It's a preposterous plot, but it's powerfully realized in The Prophecy. The angel Simon (Eric Stoltz) has come to Earth to steal the soul of a recently dead war criminal and prevent Gabriel's legions from finding it. But Gabriel (Christopher Walken) is relentless in his pursuit of the soul, and he's chilling in his casual disdain of the humans who get in his way.

One such human is Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas), whose visions of Heaven's war forced him from the priesthood. Now a New York City cop, he is investigating the violent death of an inhuman creature he comes to believe is an angel. His investigation takes him to Chimney Rock, Ariz., where Simon has hidden the evil soul in the body of an innocent Native American girl, Mary (Moriah Shining Dove Snyder). Daggett gains allies in the improbable forms of small-town schoolteacher Catherine (Virginia Madsen) and Lucifer himself (Viggo Mortensen).

A bit of suffering levity is added to the tale through Gabriel's almost-dead minions Jerry (Adam Goldberg) and Rachael (Amanda Plummer). You want to weep, but you laugh.

Walken is creepily good as the merciless archangel, and his scenes will likely leave you unsettled. Stoltz is his direct opposite; staunchly resolute in his faith and obedience. Mortensen is eerily sinister as Lucifer; I swear the room temperature drops each time he comes onscreen. Koteas is dogged and devoted to the bitter end, albeit just a bit too credulous in the face of such startling events and revelations.

The Prophecy is disturbing -- I defy you to look on a heavenly battlefield without the slightest quaver -- and absorbing. The story will keep you guessing to the very last frame.

Oh, and don't be put off by the negative press given the movie's two direct-to-video sequels. The Prophecy stands alone quite well, with a satisfying conclusion that does not need continuation.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 27 July 2002

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