Order, The
Starring:
Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Benno Furmann, Peter Weller
Directed By:
Brian Helgeland
Grade
D+

The Order, which was known as The Sin Eater outside of the U.S., is another in the growing line of supernatural action/mystery flicks in which the Catholic Church is played out to be the villain. Apparently, Hollywood has a severe obsession with playing the church out as this super-secretive organization that's in charge of all things odd and occult in the world. In The Order, Heath Ledger plays a rogue priest in a small sect who goes to investigate the death of his mentor. During this investigation, he uncovers *gasp* a conspiracy involving a man known as the Sin Eater. This person has the ability to absorb the sin of others, allowing them passage into heaven without the church.

I'll go ahead and say it right away - The Order really isn't that good. Why? The script is so sloppy and contrived that it completely guts any potential the film might have. As the film opens, you'll realize the script obviously started about 15 minutes before the film did. By the time the film actually starts, the viewer feels like they missed some needed (much needed, in my own opinion) backstory and character development. You're thrown right into the film and it moves along at a good pace, giving you barely any connection to the characters. And then, the story completely shifts pace and gears from the "Catholic Church conspiracy theme" to a slower, more interesting story about the actual man who is the Sin Eater. Of course, after this more interesting vignette is over, the story goes back to the more predictable scenario and finishes up its work. Expect no major surprises from the script. Or maybe there were surprises there but I couldn't find the room to care because its all executed so poorly.

Outside of the story, there might have been some good things going on here. Ledger and a few of his A Knight's Tale cast members (Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy) already have preset onscreen chemistry despite the script and Benno Furmann does a good job as the Sin Eater. Peter Weller plays a pretty uninteresting Cardinal that's even more stiff and bland then his role as Robocop.

The cinematography is pretty much by-the-numbers and your shouldn't expect much out of the special effects, costuming or music. There are only small pieces of the film that show what could have been something greater. While the film itself never shows the signs of a B-rated flick, I have to wonder is this was someone's pet project gone horribly wrong that just got dumped out into the theaters to make up any lost funding they could. I won't say that any aspect of the film makes it horrible, per say, but with the sloppy script/plot, I would think most viewers will watch this once and then never think about it again.

So, who would want to see this? Heath Ledger fans and those who enjoyed the cast from A Knight's Tale. Also, if you enjoy seeing the Catholic Church being played out as villain once again, give it a rent. It's sad that there might have actually been a portion of a great film here. Too bad it's sandwiched between a rushed opening and clichéd ending.

- - Vane

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