“Even now in Heaven there are angels bearing savage weapons.”
The Scoop: 1995 R, directed by Gregory Widen and starring Christopher Walken, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen, Virginia Madsen
Tagline: Marked by Fate, Doomed by Prophecy… Time is Running Out for Mankind!
Summary Capsule: Militant angels fight on earth for the rights to a damned soul. Only a schoolteacher and an ex-priest turned cop can stop them. Apparently.
Rich’s rating: Who would have guessed that angels could be so… scary.
Rich’s review: This is another film I have to chalk up reviewing credit to my housemate for, not in the least for him actually owning the video version of the film which I watched over the weekend in order to review it. I’d had this film recommended to me by no end of at least partially sane people, and had promised myself I would watch it when I had some spare time. Last Sunday I had some spare time, and the result was a confirmation of my love for Christopher Walker, an even deeper respect for Viggo Mortensen than I already had, an hour and a half’s quality entertainment, and this review.
Now normally, if you’ve ready my reviews before, this is where I go rambling off on a tangent about something only obliquely related to the film. Strangely, in the case of this one, I really can’t think of anything which isn’t covered in the plot, so I’m just going to dive straight in to the meat of what The Prophecy is all about.
I’m sure you all know some of the story anyway; How Lucifer, the most beloved angel, rebelled against God, caused a war in the Heavens, and was cast down. Got that? OK. However, these Angels are no harp playing cherubs. Instead, the Angels seen in the Prophecy are the fire and brimstone, judgement by the sword Angel of old, messengers and deliverers of God’s punishments. And what’s worse, from our point of view, is that they’re not very happy with us humans.
Because when God sent his Son down to earth to die for our sins, some Angels felt that they were being pushed aside. That humanity was being elevated above them in God’s sight. And those that thought that way got upset, and as everyone knows, when people get upset, that’s how people get hurt. And so, a second war in the heavens ensues, developing into a constant stalemate while we scuttle around obliviously on Earth.
Flash forward to now, and about to be ordained priest Thomas Daggett is unfortunately ‘blessed’ with a vision of the war between the Angels featuring them doing pretty nasty stuff to each other with flaming swords, and this kills his faith deader than Chesney Hawkes pop career (remember him? Didn’t he suck?). Having given up on being a priest, Thomas goes for the obvious career progression and becomes a homicide detective instead. Things start getting nutty in Thomas’ life when the angel Simon (a nicely innocent Eric Stoltz) turns up in his house unannounced one day to drop some subtle hints about strange goings on, then promptly disappears, only for Thomas to be called in on a homicide the following day where the victim is distinctly… odd.
Because, as it turns out, the ultimate weapon to break the stalemated war between the angels is a soul here on Earth — and while Simon is trying to find and hide it from those who want to use it as a weapon, enter Gabriel (the incredibly creepy Christopher Walken), ringleader of those Angels Who Don’t Like Us Monkey People Very Much, who would quite like to get his hand on this soul so he can kick the behinds of all those goody two-shoes angels and then break out the fire and brimstone for all us poor little people down on Earth.
As the film progresses, both Thomas, and Catherine the local school teacher in a sleepy midwest community (played by Virginia Madsen) wind up opposing Gabriel’s hunt for the dark soul, and therein lies the majority of the film’s action. I’ve deliberately been as vague as I can on the details front so as not to spoilerize the entire film; but trust me when I say that Christopher Walken’s performance alone makes this film immensely watchable; and it’s by no means the only good thing about it.
Something that I would be awry to neglect when talking about this film is the brilliant performance of Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer, who of course can’t help but poke his nose into things. Seeing Aragorn as the Father of Lies and Prince of Darkness was quite a change, let me tell you; but Viggo is brilliantly both endearing and creepy as the Fallen Angel, as well as having some of the best lines in a film chock full of great quotes.
This film isn’t going to start any sparkling philosophical debates; nor does it push back the boundaries of cinema. What it does do is deliver an interesting, suspenseful plot, filled with engaging and compelling characters doing interesting things and saying cool lines while doing it. Christopher Walken is great at being Christopher Walken i.e. intimidating and scary and cool all at the same time; Eric Stoltz does a very nice turn as the nice, kind, friendly Simon, and Viggo Mortensen steals all the best lines (as well as the best tunes) as the devil himself.
So, if you find yourself with the time and the opportunity, take it. You’ll thank me, I promise.
- I loved Gabriel teaching the schoolkids how to blow his trumpet, and the subsequent results.
- No-one can make a wink more intimidating than Christopher Walken can.
- One of the few times a character in a film has thanked someone sincerely for killing them….
- The worlds most cramped fight inside the trailer.
- Gabriel’s method of extracting information… mmmm, crispy.
- Lucifer’s little song cracks me up every time.
- The “Shhh” thing. I’d love to be able to do that.
- Spawned a series of sequels, all featuring the wonderful Mr. Walken; though a 4th instalment of the series is slated for 2004 release without him.
Thomas: The 23rd chapter of Revelations. Cute.
Thomas: There is no 23rd Chapter of Revelations.
Gabriel: Do you know how you got that dent in your lip? One day, thousands of years ago, I told you a secret; then I put my finger there and said “Shhh”.
Rachel: Why are you doing this?
Gabriel: I can’t drive. Now you can choose; either one more day with me, or eternity in that sagging skin-suit.
Gabriel: It’s rare to see an adult here in church on a week night. But don’t get me wrong, I think it shows a fine sense of character. Don’t you think, Thomas?
Thomas: How did you know my name?!
Gabriel: Eh, you look like a Thomas.
Thomas: Did you ever notice how in the Bible, whenever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?
Catherine: Go to Hell!
Gabriel: Heaven, my dear, Heaven; at least get the Zip Code right.
Catherine: It’s all the same to you, isn’t it?
Gabriel: No. In Heaven, we believe in love.
Catherine: And what do you love, Gabriel?
Gabriel: Cracking your skull.
Gabriel: Jerry, come here. If you were a soul, where would you hide?
Jerry: The hell away from you.
Lucifer: Little Tommy Daggett… would say such beautiful, beautiful prayers, and then you would hop into bed, afraid that I was under there… and I was!
Gabriel: Study your math kids; key to the Universe.
Lucifer: You see, Heaven is closed to your kind, back past your fathers and grandfathers and more, because of the war. Eventually some of them even came to me because, unlike Heaven, I am always open, even at Christmas. What Gabriel figured out was that Humans… and how I love you talking monkeys for this… know more about war and treachery than any angel; so he found a way to get the blackest, darkest soul to fight the war on his side. But I know that if Gabriel wins, Heaven will become just another Hell, and that’s just one too many.
Lucifer: I was the first angel, at one point loved above all others…(sings)…but like all true love, it withered on the vine…
Simon: I remember the First War. The way the sky burned, the faces of the angels destroyed. I saw a third of Heaven’s legion banished and the creation of Hell. I stood with my brothers and watched Lucifer’s Fall, but now my brothers are not brothers, and we have come here where we are mortal to steal the Dark Soul, not yet Lucifer’s, to serve our Cause. I have always obeyed, but I never thought that War would happen again.
Gabriel: It’s not here.
Jerry: Bad news for the war effort.
Thomas: If you wanted to prove your side was right, Gabriel, so badly, why didn’t you just ask Him? Why didn’t you ask God?
Gabriel: Because He doesn’t talk to me any more.
Gabriel: This war is mine!
Lucifer: Your war is arrogance. That makes it evil. And that’s mine.
Gabriel: Lucifer. Sitting in your basement. Sulking about your breakup with the boss. You’re nothing.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Prophecy II or III
- Or, if you’re feeling reckless, End of Days