Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sacrifice (2011)

 I've reviewed a direct-to-video Movie Church with Christian Slater before, when we looked the horrible Movie Church in a horrible movie called The Confessor. Today's film not only has the dreaded Slater credit, but the even less promising threat of Cuba Gooding Jr., who went from Oscar winner to box office poison.

So I approached this film with great trepidation, and you probably won't be surprised to learn that the 2011 film Sacrifice (written and directed by Damian Lee, who has made a whole bunch of films I've never heard of) is really pretty awful. But we're here to look at the church in the film.

I'm pretty positive about the church in this film, because the priest in this film, Father Porter, (played by Christian Slater) wasn't always a priest. He was with the "special forces" in Afghanistan with a team of four other soldiers. They each got a one-word tattoo, a virtue, on his hand in solidarity.  The other four had "freedom", "family", "blood", "courage" on their hands and Porter had "sacrifice" (TITLE DROP!).

The other four soldiers died, and Porter has survivor's guilt. He decided become a priest because, as he says, "it was the hardest thing I could possibly do. Stupid, right?" He is, to say the least, conflicted about calling. He says, "Sometimes I wonder if I chose God or He chose me. 'Cause if he chose me, He made a mistake."

But we see him doing a decent job in his duties. An elderly woman comes to him and asks him to listen to her confession. He responds, "Didn't I hear your confession last night?" But he listens.

She tells the priest that sometimes she thinks she'll end up in a higher level in heaven than her husband. She asks him what she should do about this sin of pride. He gives her four Hail Mary's but doesn't ask her to call in the morning.

While he's hearing her confession, young thugs break into the collection box of the church and accidently knock over and break the statue of the Virgin Mary. A young man named Mike, visiting the church, offers a Virgin Mary statue to replace it. Mike is a drug dealer and the statue he gives was stolen from drug overlords -- and it's composed of pure heroin. But it's the thought that counts.

Father Porter also cares for John Hebron, an undercover police officer who takes on the drug world's worst of the worst. Because he caught some really bad guys, their associates came back and killed his wife and daughter. This has turned him into a cop on the edge who lives by his own rules. (Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon you say? Of course, but not nearly that good.)

We do hear, in a flashback, Father Porter's memorial sermon for John's wife and daughter. "We celebrate the lives of Anna and Noelle, and cherish them in our hearts as we commend them to God's merciful love, the author of all life. God has created each person for eternal life. Jesus, the Son of God, with His death and resurrection has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity."

John, the cop, comes often to the church to light candles in his wife's memory. The priest asks why he lights the candles even though he doesn't believe in it. John says it's because his wife believed in it. The priest says, "God works in mysterious ways," which is a reliable go to cliché in hack films. John pulls out a flask and shares it with Father Porter. I'm assuming Kool-Aid was in the flask, but we're never told.

You may not be surprised to hear that eventually the bad guys come after that heroin statue in the church, and it's up to the cop on the edge and the special forces priest to stop them.

For a decent funeral sermon and that special forces training, I'm giving Father Porter and his church Three Steeples.

(This film earns its R rating. And on another pointless side note, the film opens at a game of the NHL finals. And it appears literally dozens of hockey fans are in the stands.)

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