The Order

0 out of 10


Ballet of the Brainless

"Creative Artists" is the definitive oxymoron as I have often written, for if the US had an equivalent of Britain's Trades Descriptions Act, they would surely have to revise their name to "Uncreative Philistines". The move by their man Steve Alexander to allow a rising star like Heath Ledger into a project like "The Order" that had less going for it that your uncle's black and white home porno, can only have been motivated by the most extreme of vendictive hatred for the man he supposedly represents. Indeed, it is a stunning testimony to Ledger's personal strength and talent that he was still able to bounce back three years to come within a handful of votes of winning an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain", although reports indicate that "The Order" has seen two or three digits knocked off his salary, reported to be now down to just $50,000 per film.

In the lead role, Ledger is Alex Bernier, a Catholic priest in an order with only three members left, itself, an unconvincing proposition. After the death of his mentor, he travels to Rome to discover some unintelligible conspiracy with dialogue that a third-grader would find simplistic and trite, incredibly including, "Oh, women. Can't live awith 'em. Can't live with 'em". With the film fortunately hidden in part by the crass cinematography of Nicola Pecorini (the mastermind behind shooting "Brothers Grimm" in the gloom), you almost expect Laurel and Hardy to wander in front onto the screen from a camera crew who must have been smoking something exceedingly strong. And music? Mercifully, of the three idiot composers, Dan Powell never worked again, Adam Milo Smalley began a music editor, and only David Torn has continued to wrench our ears on the odd occasions he has managed to beat the studio security and sneak back onto a film set.

After a couple more characters die, Alex finds it all revolves around a "sin-eater", a man who takes on people's sins before they die, just the same way as the bit part actors and crew for this crud paid dearly for director/producer/writer Steve Helgeland's folly, usually by seeing the end of their careers. Shortly afterwards, the film ends.

How $38million could be raised for such a vacuous script is the rosetta stone of salesmanship that telemarketers across the Western world would likely sell their soul to discover, let alone the mystery of how Helgeland managed to blow what is a fortune for a horror flick and still end up with the celluloid equivalent of used toilet tissue. It seems like a prima facia case of fraud. He claims to have done lots of research - I guess looking for a dealer with some quality stuff. The acting is laughable, the continuity is negligible with daggers moving around tables between shots, obviously plywood stage sets of stone walls wobble, and the special effects are attrocious: when a man is found hanged, the wires holding up the actor are clearly visible and when evils leave people's mouths, it was so bad that it even had studio executives, whose jobs were on the line, hooting with laughter as it looked just like "calamari". At least, to their credit, the latter effect was remade.

Walk into any consignment shop and just take a look at the video on sale. I guarantee that you'll find at least a couple of copies of "The Order". Why? It's utter rubbish. And with a WORLD box office gross of well under $8million, the ticket-buying public agreed too, leaving it deep in the fiasco zone.

Talentless to the Point of Toxic

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett