The Prophecy

VehiclesElias KoteasEntertainmentMoviesChristopher WalkenViggo MortensenDennis Hopper

Monday September 4, 1995

     Here's the ultimate statement for our era of diminished expectations: "Heaven isn't heaven anymore," laments the angel Simon (Eric Stolz) early on in the frankly bizarre religious thriller "The Prophecy."
     Seems even God has trouble finding good help these days. The angel Gabriel (Christopher Walken), upset that God doesn't hold him in such high favor anymore (apparently, heaven isn't above office politics), is planning a palace coup. Enraged that God is more interested in the activities of "talking monkeys" (i.e., humans), Gabriel has descended upon Earth to claim the soul of a demented Army colonel that will help him muck up heaven's heavenliness (it's explained that although angels do know quite a bit when it comes to atrocities, they have nothing over us humans).
     Even Lucifer (Viggo Mortensen) is chagrined--"Two hells is one hell too many," he grumbles reasonably; hence, he advises the only people who can stop this sinister plan, Thomas (Elias Koteas), a cop who abandoned the priesthood, and Katherine (Virginia Madsen), a small-town schoolteacher concerned that one of her students is possessed by said colonel's soul.
     No, it's not a comedy. Essentially, it's a sequel to the biblical tale of Lucifer's fall from grace, only with car crashes and gunplay (one would presume that Gabriel might have learned a lesson or two from his colleague's missteps). This foray into spiritual torment is the directorial debut of screenwriter Gregory Widen ("Highlander," "Backdraft"), who as a former firefighter has insight into earthly infernos. Though Widen proves himself capable enough behind the camera, his script here is simply too loopy for him to render it in any credible fashion.
     Walken, who would probably not rank high on any casting director's list of names seeking more run-of-the-mill angels, won't receive an endorsement from heaven's Chamber of Commerce for his frequently over-the-top performance as Gabriel, who, although vaguely omnipresent and multi-powerful, for some reason can't drive a car. Resplendently creepy with his ghostly pallor, blue fingernails and jet-black hair, Walken parades through this thing like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" or Dennis Hopper in just about anything he's done recently. Stolz, with ratty hair, black fingernails and the long coat favored by Eurotrash villains in bad cop movies, is the good angel. The rest of the cast puts an admirable amount of commitment into their performances given the material.
     Still, "The Prophecy" has an odd appeal that keeps you engaged, if only to find out just how strange it dares to get. Thomas, the cop who quickly unlocks the mystery, accepts everything that unfolds around him with little or no problem, but audiences will likely be filled with doubting Thomases.

The Prophecy, 1995. R for violence and gore, and for some language. NEO Motion Pictures presents a First Look film, released by Dimension Films. Director and writer Gregory Widen. Producer Joel Soisson. Executive producers W.K. Border, Don Phillips. Cinematographer Bruce Douglas Johnson, Richard Clabaugh. Music David C. Williams. Editor Sonny Baskin. Costumes Dana Allyson. Production design Clark Hunter. Set decorator Michele Spadaro. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. Elias Koteas as Thomas. Christopher Walken as Gabriel. Virginia Madsen as Katherine. Eric Stolz as Simon.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times