The Order

Everybody apparently had a great time on the set of A Knight's Tale. Writer/director Brian Helgeland and actors Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, and Mark Eddy all came back to participate in The Order, which makes it a huge vanity project. Like most vanity projects, there is little redeeming quality to it. The Order is another supernatural thriller somehow related to the Church. The last time there were a bunch of these movies was around the millennium. None of them were great, and in the meantime nobody was clamoring for more. The Order is probably the worst of the bunch. It is a jumbled mess, with no clear point of existence.

What is interesting is that Alex Bernier (Ledger, The Four Feathers, Monster's Ball) belongs to an obscure sect of the Church called the Carolingeans. They combat evil and the undead, like a combination between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fathers Karras and Merrin (ooh, semi-obscure reference!). Either way, Mara Sinclair (Sossamon, The Rules of Attraction, 40 Days and 40 Nights) reappears in his life after escaping a mental hospital. She tried to kill him earlier, but the two also apparently have some sort of forbidden love for each other brewing underneath the surface. He also tried to exorcise a demon from her, which put her in an institution in the first place. Uh, okay. Bernier's mentor dies, and he goes back to Rome investigate. Everybody thinks it was suicide, Bernier thinks it was murder. The only other Carolingean is Thomas Garrett (Addy, The Time Machine, A Knight's Tale), who decides to help Bernier in his quest.

It turns out that William Eden (Benno Furmann, The Princess and the Warrior, Anatomy) is the man behind the death. He is also known as the Sin-Eater, and is trying to tempt Bernier to take his place. It is a while before Helgeland (A Knight's Tale, Payback) reveals who the Sin-Eater is, what he does, and why it is important, but by the time that rolls around, nobody cares. Eden is basically a loophole that allows evil people to absolve their sins to get into Heaven. However, given some of the basic tenets of Christianity (especially how to get into Heaven), Eden's role is fairly pointless. There's also some other random guy (Peter Weller, Shadow Hours, Ivansxtc) running around doing something nobody cares about. The Order suffers from a large lack of plot. Everything is as muddled and dark as the appearance of the film, which is probably one of the few interesting things about it.

Once upon a time Helgeland won an Academy Award for adapting L.A. Confidential. His upcoming adaptation of Mystic River is generating lots of positive buzz. Perhaps the fact that he is writing off source material and not directing these two films is an important point. There, he is already working with something. Here, he creates nonsensical situations, inconsistent characters, and hokey dialogue. It's also a pity for Ledger, whose once rising star is quickly falling unless he can choose a good role.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 42 minutes, Rated R for violent images, sexuality, and language.

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