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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Order (2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Brian Helgeland

Starring:
Heath Ledger/Alex
Shannyn Sossamon/Mara
Benno Furman/Eden
Mark Addy/Thomas
5 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A “ghost-busting” priest’s (Ledger) already torn existence is rendered even more complex when he begins investigating an odd murder that eventually leads him to an enigmatic figure known as the Sin Eater (Furman).
THE LOWDOWN
What is this? A center for ants! How are children supposed to learnhow to read if they can’t even fit in the building? That’s the first thing I uttered to my friend when coming out of "The Order" and it had absolutely nothing to do with the film...which was the point! Being that press screenings were MIA and that the U.S. poster for this movie looked like a Teen Beat magazine cover, I knew that something was amiss with this Order. And that's exactly why I didn't expect much from the flick, and not surprisingly...didn't get much either.

"The Order" is a supernatural thriller with no thrills, a horror movie with no horror, a love story with no heart, a mystery with no mystery, a character study that lacks character and a look at church corruption for dummies. I just couldn’t get onto this ride because it wouldn’t let me on, being too busy talking me to death as opposed to going deep into its substance to affect me. To add insult to injury, the pace was dead weight, never managing to excite or capture the momentum of its plot turns, while the narrative felt choppy. Somebody let this one cook in the editing microwave for way too long, that’s for sure. And what was up with the unnecessary comic relief? Man, I didn’t need that! Talk about annoying! If that Thomas dude (Addy) said “Spaghettio” one more time...I would’ve blown up the theater.

The only saving graces I found in this chapel were the gray areas it displayed when it came to it characters. Films usually portray good and evil in such a black and white fashion that it was refreshing to see it tackled with some ambiguousness. I also appreciated the film's initial premise (the Sin Eater myth is a compelling one) and relished in every exchange that Ledger had with his mucho captivating nemesis. Benno Furman was definitely the highlight of the movie, giving it its only pinch of intensity. Lastly, I gawked at the gorgeous Rome locations, was enamored with the dread-filled atmosphere, wooed by the arresting stylish images at hand and Heath’s fly trench coat was the money.

Other than that, when I wasn’t too busy chuckling at the ridiculously heavy handed dialogue or the silly-willy CGI (which I hear had been re-shot to look less stupid….that didn’t work), I was busting a rib at Heath Ledger’s amateurish attempts at crying. Talk about ruining what was supposed to be a poignant moment! Somebody forgot to yell cut and to tell Heath to stop thinking of Heather Graham’s Camel Toe. And then there was Peter Wellers doing his best Humpty Dumpty impression...urg…I won’t even get into that…poor Peter: ”Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!” Come on Pete, remember that shite?

When all was communed, "The Order" just sucked the energy out of me, making me crave my bed for some well-earned snoozes. It’s a shame because it had all the ingredients to be a decent picture, but was ruined by its half cocked screenplay and execution. Eat this sin!
GORE
We get nails in flesh, some blood and slit wrists. Yawn.
ACTING
Heath Ledger (Alex) mumbled a lot and let his 6 o'clock shadow do most of the acting. His more emotional moments were simply laughable. Shannyn Sossamon (Mara) was "whatever". She said her lines and cashed in that check. Benno Furman (Eden) owned as the charismatic and enigmatic entity. The guy breathed life into the film. Mark Addy (Thomas) rubbed me the wrong way, not his fault, the part was badly written. Comic relief this, beeyatch!
T & A
Heath and Shannyn’s naked backs…are you hard/wet yet? I know I’m not.
DIRECTING
I’ll give the movie this: its visuals were intoxicating, from the washed out bluish tint, to the trippy quick cuts of bloody images to communicate “the sins”, to the effective use of slow motion. This flick stroked me the right way on a cosmetic level, but it's too bad that its substance wasn’t up to par.
SOUNDTRACK
No religious thriller is complete without creepy whispered chanting and this baby was no exception. The score successfully added to the eerie mood.
BOTTOM LINE
"The Order" could’ve been a contender instead of a bum, because let's face it...that’s what it is: a bum job on what could’ve been a gripping effort. The slick concept was there, the hypnotizing “villain” worked like a charm and the audio/visual aesthetics were top dog. Too bad the “meat” wasn’t up to snuff, giving me sermons instead of thrills, being unintentionally funny and solely glazing over its themes while half-assing its subplots and plot turns. Wait for it to come out on video, then rent "Angel Heart" instead.
BULL'S EYE
From the production notes: Seven years ago, writer/director Brian Helgeland came across the term "Sin Eater" – a person who would take in the sins of a deceased person. The sin eating ritual, Helgeland learned, involved placing salt and bread on the deceased, reciting an incarnation, and then consuming the salt and bread – thereby the sins – into the Sin Eater's soul. The concept caught Helgeland's attention, and he became fascinated with the implications and ramifications of eating sins. "The Sin Eater originated during medieval times when the Catholic Church was extremely powerful," Helgeland explains. "If you were dying and had been excommunicated and couldn't receive last rites, they would send for a Sin Eater, whom they believed would absolve the sins of that person. He would take the sins right into his soul."

Vincent Cassel was originally cast as Eden, but he left the production three weeks in due to creative differences and was then replaced.
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