Every once in a while, I dig up a film from my past I really dug at the time. With Halloween right around the corner, I figured now’s as good a time as any to take a look back at The Prophecy, a movie which put another hitch in Walken’s “Awesome Belt of Awesomeness” and put Viggo Mortensen on my radar years before his role as Aragorn.
The life of a LA police detective was not always in the cards for Thomas Dagget (Elias Koteas); he was nearly ordained as a priest until terrible visions of a war among the angels shook his faith. That is, until the Angel Simon (Eric Stoltz) arrives years later to confirm his visions as truth and forewarn of trouble to come. Trouble arrives in the form of the Archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) who is scouring the Earth for the dark soul, which if possessed, will turn the tide of the angelic war to his favor. Simon has discovered the soul resides in the recently deceased Colonel Hawthorne (Patrick McAllister) in Chimney Rock, Arizona. Thomas follows Simon’s breadcrumbs to the withering town where he enlists school teacher Katherine (Virginia Madsen) to exorcise the soul before Gabriel creates a new hell.
The Prophecy is writer Gregory Widen’s debut as a feature director. Filmed in 1993, released in 1995, its looks solidifies its 90’s status. However, don’t hold the hair-dos and wardrobe against it,?The Prophecy has tons going for it.
First off, it’s hard to go wrong solving a mystery with Elias Koteas. Though audiences are given several perspectives, we;re still itching for him to discover what we already know. Next up, Eric Stoltz has the kind-eyed, but totally creepy vibe on lock. His methods for securing the dark soul definitely paint him more towards the latter than the former.
Of them all, it’s Christopher Walken that owns this film. From the moment he kicks in a hotel door, spots a blood-spattered table, then proceeds to sniff then LICK it to identify Simon’s presence, audiences know this is the monster Thomas will have to face. Walken with his swagger takes Gabriel to a whole other level. From the way he explains his plight to how he demeans his revived helpers Jerry (Adam Goldberg) and Rachael (Amanda Plummer) shows his eloquence and his depravity. He’s a scene-chewing forced to be reckoned with that only Viggo Mortensen comes close to topping with his vulgar, needy portrayal of Lucifer.
The acting isn’t the only strong point. Widen’s story of the second war in Heaven is intriguing on a ton of levels. Unfortunately, the small budget did not help with supplying impressive effects to match. The angels looked cool with their lack of eyes, but flashes into the carnage raging in Heaven and the exorcism of the dark soul felt a decade older than they needed to be.
The other limiting issue is that Widen’s story, and all it’s intricate parts, take up a significant amount of exposition and minutes. This meandering pace can be frustrating nowadays, especially when the audience is already in on what our intrepid hero still has to discover for himself. I can endure the slowness and bad effects time and again just to have Walken make me believe Gabriel is one angel you don’t want to cross.