The 23rd chapter of the St John's revelations........
.......and there rose a second war in heaven.
Gabriel is a rogue angel intent on capturing the black soul of a recently deceased war criminal general. Standing in his way is the good angel Simon, who hides the soul in a child, a couple of honest citizens, and Lucifer himself, who has his own vested interest in proceedings.
Largely ignored on release, and badly marketed as a horror film, The Prophecy, in this day and age of torture porn and slasher overkill, is crying out to be seen more by a jaded horror audience. For it be a film that has an interesting theological heart, that matches its daring and deeply provocative ideas. Here is a film that adds another chapter to the bible, the result being a battle for a soul on Earth that will have major repercussions for both heaven and hell. Gabriel (Christopher Walken) is even (poignantly some might say) using would-be-suicides as his unwilling helpers, their paths to peace blocked by Gabriel in his cunningly crafted intentions-yes this is pretty tight stuff indeed.
Flecked with the odd bit of humour (zip code wise cracks for heaven and hell), Gregory Widen's film perhaps is guilty of not fully realising end of the world promise. But this is a minor itch come the finale, because really the picture should be judged as one complete and intelligent whole. Cast wise you will search in vain for a weak link, because there simply isn't one. Walken is suitably gargoyle like, slick black hair and pasty faced, he induces fear whilst simultaneously charming the beejesus out of the humans, re: talking monkeys. Elias Koteas (a candidate for most undervalued actor of his generation), Virginia Madsen, Adam Goldberg (suicide Jerry), Amanda Plummer (suicide Rachael), Eric Stoltz (Simon) and Viggo Mortensen (Lucifer), all deliver top line performances to ensure the piece lives up to its billing as one of the best acted cult films from the 90s.
It had enough support to warrant a direct to video franchise, with mixed results following each subsequent sequel. But it's here where it matters, a fine film that deserves far better than the bad reputation it gets from those who expected a straight out horror film. I urge anyone who hasn't seen it to give it a go, open your mind and hope Gabriel doesn't come a wandering in. 8/10
Just before The Prophecy was released, there was a lot of excitement about it in certain circles I was a part of. That excessive hype led to my initial disappointment with the movie. Over time, though, as I have watched it over again a time or two, my appreciation of the film has grown. Biblical prophecy and apocalyptic discourses are fascinating to me, and this movie plays off of some of the more far-fetched ideas in the realm of speculation. As the movie opens, we see Thomas Daggett lose his faith in God at the very moment in which he was to be confirmed as a priest; his loss of faith is interestingly a result of having been shown too much of heaven rather than too little. The movie then jumps to the present, where Daggett is a police detective investigating the death of a man-like enigma with no eyes and fetus-like cell structure. We have already seen how this being attacked the angel Simon and lost the fight. The injuries Simon sustains in the struggle upsets his plans, plans which consist of retrieving the soul of the recently deceased most evil man on earth before "the enemy" seizes that soul for their continuing nefarious purposes. Before Simon dies, he gives the soul to a young Indian girl named Mary, and the plot revolves around the enemy's attempts to retrieve the black soul from her and the efforts of Daggett, Mary's teacher, and a medicine man to release the black soul from within Mary's body. The enemy, as Daggett learns by translating a Bible found on the body of the initial victim, is none other than the archangel Gabriel. An unknown 23rd chapter of Revelation in the ancient Bible describes a second war going on in heaven, a war led by the archangel Gabriel who refuses to bow down to the "monkeys" of humanity whom God gave souls and thus elevated above even the angels. This is not a "Left Behind" type of story about the end times; it is a saga of the second war in heaven, a war among God's angels themselves. Naturally, such a conflict cannot end without the original fallen angel Lucifer involving himself in the action, and all of this makes for a quite satisfying conclusion to the movie. This movie is blessed with terrific acting. Christopher Walken in particular delivers a powerful portrayal of the tortured archangel Gabriel. There are some pretty good special effects, particularly those showing the horrors of the fighting among the angels in heaven itself. Most religious individuals should have no real problems with The Prophecy because it never portrays itself as representing some kind of truth or challenges its viewers' own beliefs. While the movie has its flaws, it succeeds in presenting a problematical storyline with the required seriousness it requires in order to be effective. It is also improved by small bits of humor along the way, such as Gabriel's dislike for human tears and his inability to drive a car. This is definitely a must-see for Christopher Walken fans. Those unable or unwilling to suspend their disbelief, especially when it involves intractable religious views, will do well to seek their entertainment elsewhere.
This stylish and entertaining 1990s Earth-bound supernatural fantasy involves a struggle between loyal and renegade angels. Convinced by a prophecy that possession of a ‘dark human soul’ will result in victory for his rebel angels, Christopher Walken’s archangel Gabriel scours the world of ‘talking monkeys’ searching for this terrible weapon. When Los Angeles detective Thomas Dagget encounters the body of a deceased angel his previous training for the priesthood and knowledge of the scriptures prove invaluable as his murder enquiries lead him to travel to the tiny settlement of Chimney Rock in Arizona where his faith is again put to the test. There are some notable actors present in this quality B-movie, including Viggo Mortensen who does a mean Lucifer, and the combination of sound narrative, disturbing images, tense action and dry humour culminates in an enjoyable flawed masterpiece of the genre. I loved it.
The film opens as angel expert, near priest Thomas (Elias Koteas) has visions and leaves the seminary to become a policeman, one that investigates strange killings done by angels. There is a "second war" in heaven that wasn't described in detail enough in the Bible, so the film made up an extra chapter for the Revelation of John. The script smartly confounds the roles of the angels as simply good and evil as both sides take on duel characteristics. Christopher Walken plays Gabriel in a rather creepy manner while Viggo Mortensen plays a charismatic Lucifer. Good script. Good performances.
On a side note, Revelation was designed to have 22 chapters with each chapter representing a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Lucifer was the Roman "Light Bringer" a title given to Ishtar in the role of Venus the morning star who brought the light of the sun. Venus was the "rebellious" archangel of lore who remained shining while all the other planets were no longer visible. Jerome anachronistically translated "The Light Bringer" in Isiah as Lucifer and it has stuck with us ever since.
Heaven's been closed for the past two thousand years because of a war between the angels, with Christopher Walken's Archangel Gabriel leading those eager to do away with the talking monkeys who have supplanted them in God's affections, and now the War in Heaven has spilled out onto Earth. These angels aren't the benign, mournfully watchful figures of Wings of Desire or City of Angels, let alone the make-a-wish do-gooders of Touched by an Angel. These are God's hitmen, creatures that spend their whole existence praising God with one wing dipped in blood. They don't grant wishes, they don't make things better and you really, REALLY wouldn't want to see one. But, experienced as they are in laying waste to whole nations, they lack man's capacity for true evil and need to find the darkest human soul to show them the way to win. Viggo Mortensen's Lucifer isn't too keen on the situation, fearing a victory for Gabriel's side will result in Heaven becoming another Hell - and two Hells is one Hell too many for him. Stuck in the middle is Elias Koteas' priest-turned-cop, who lost his faith not because Heaven showed him too little but because it showed him too much.
The similarities to writer-director Gregory Widen's Highlander screenplay are apparent, although this boasts a much lower budget but infinitely superior direction, a good visual sense and some great locations. Much of the film's strength is in its ideas and its dialogue: the plotting is at times perfunctory, Virginia Madsen's schoolteacher takes little convincing of the Angelic threat and Walken probably has a little TOO much fun as Gabe, whether letting schoolchildren blow his horn or gleefully explaining "I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why." The ending too is more than a little awkward. But the good points outweigh the bad.
No extras (the US release includes the trailer) but a decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer.