A heavyweight cast and superb location-shooting carries “The Padre,” an otherwise meandering crime thriller. Director Jonathan Sobol and screenwriter Stephen Kunc effectively replicate the tone and eccentricity of a pulp paperback but can’t arrange all their good ideas into anything solid.
Unlike with some low-budget genre pictures, at least the famous actors in “The Padre” appear from start to finish. Tim Roth plays the title character — a British con man dressed like a priest — while Nick Nolte’s the grizzled American tracking him, and Luis Guzman is the small-town Colombian cop working as the yankee’s hired muscle.
The movie’s real star though is Valeria Henriquez, playing Lena, a 16-year-old desperate to buy her way into the United States and reunite with her younger sister in Minnesota. When she finds out that there’s a reward for capturing the Padre, she uses that info to pressure him into cutting her into his latest big score.
Lena is the film’s best character, in large part because her storyline and motivation are the clearest. “The Padre” wastes too much time teasing and then explaining the connections between all the bad dudes that Lena exploits.
Even when the picture’s too static, though, it’s always nice to look at. Filming on location in Colombia, Sobol keeps finding picturesque spots that balance working-class grit with stunning mountain vistas. This is a great place to stage a neo-noir. Too bad “The Padre” isn’t a better one.
Rated: R for language and some violence
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: Starts Sept. 28, Galaxy Mission Grove, Riverside; also on VOD