Thursday, January 27, 2011
The makers of The Rite have no right to ask people to pay money to see it. What a silly, derivative, easy movie this is, saved only marginally by Anthony Hopkins’ stellar-as-usual performance.
Part of the problem is that it’s about exorcisms, a played-out and tired horror subgenre, and it’s “inspired by true events.” If you do not believe exorcisms are a necessary evil, and/or could ever be part of a “true event,” do not watch this movie. Coincidentally, skeptical Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) doesn’t believe it either, but after the head of his seminary school (Toby Jones) threatens to make him pay back his scholarship of nearly $100,000, Michael is forced to go to Rome to attend an exorcism course.
There he meets a reporter named Angeline (Alice Braga), who’s taking the same course and is superfluous to the story. In fact, you should consider every moment Michael spends with Angeline to be time in your life that is completely wasted that you’ll never get back. And it’s not like the movie needed a token female character – the first exorcism Michael observes is Rosaria’s (Marta Gastini), a pregnant woman with an aunt (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) who’s much hotter than Rosaria could ever hope to be.
The man performing the exorcism is Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), who takes an “unorthodox” approach but consistently gets results. He is also Michael’s mentor, but the main problem with director Mikael Hafstrom’s story is this: We recognize that Michael will eventually become a believer very early on, but it takes way, way too long for him to come around.
For example, there is a scene in which Rosaria has iron nails come out of her mouth while possessed, and it’s during that scene that Michael needs to be convinced. But no.
He insists that she swallowed the nails and is putting on a performance, or in the very least suffering from mental illness. OK Michael, you egotistical, non-believing moron: This pregnant woman swallowed three-inch nails with the intention of spitting them up in front of you just to get you to believe in the devil. Sure.
There are no real scares or visual effects here, which is fine as it’s more of a drama than a thriller. Too bad there isn’t much drama. The movie often drags with subplots such as Michael’s personal baggage, and O’Donoghue isn’t a captivating enough screen presence to keep us interested. He does fine in his scenes with Hopkins, but O’Donoghue is no leading man, and this is his movie.
If you do choose to go for Hopkins’ performance, feel free to arrive a half hour late, as it takes that long for him to appear. Still, his acting alone is not enough to make this worthwhile, and given that you have The Rite to skip this movie, you should do so.
THE RITE (2) Directed by Mikael Håfström • Starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga • Rated PG-13 • At Century Cinemas Del Monte, Maya Cinemas and Northridge Cinemas.