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The Reckoning (2004)

Morality Play

The truth shall come to light

Directed by:

Paul McGuigan

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 112 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Spain, United Kingdom

As a general rule, monks really only have a couple of key strengths. Calligraphy is one of them. Keeping shtum is the other. And that’s about it really. So ‘The Reckoning’s Nicholas (Paul Bettany) would appear to be something of a super-monk, juggling his regular monking duties with acting, solving mysteries, and being a bit of a hit with the womenfolk. He’s the James Bond of friars, only his license is to wear robes and do a bit of preaching.

It’s England, 1380, and our Nick causes a bit of an uproar when he’s caught necking with a lady (it’s a shock not so much because of his chosen career path, but because up until that point nobody had realised that a man boasting such a ridiculous bowl-cut would ever be able to pull). So our rebellious man of the cloth goes on the run and joins a band of travelling thespians led by the crevice-faced Martin (Willem Dafoe).

Eventually, this gang of theatre-loving tinks wind up at a small town, where they perform weary renditions of various bible yarns for the plague-ridden shit-encrusted locals. But there’s controversy on the horizon when they decide to change artistic direction and re-enact the story of a recent murder. Upon researching the tale, they learn the hag locked up in the neighbourhood dungeon is actually innocent, and that the man responsible is none other than resident toff Lord De Guise (Vincent Cassel). Suffice to say, their next performance is less a play than a very early prototype of a ‘Crimewatch’ reconstruction.

‘The Reckoning’ features some good performances from its lead players, and is nicely-directed by ‘Wicker Park helmsman Paul McGuigan. Unfortunately, it’s also exceptionally dull. It takes 40 minutes of plodding drama before finally getting to the point, and even then the story which begins to unfold is a major disappointment. Featuring no twists, turns or even the feeblest attempt to disguise “whodunit”, the whole plot fits together all too easily and never challenges the viewer for a second. Then, where under normal circumstances some sort of climax would begin to kick-in, we’re spoon-fed a lengthy and unequivocally boring theological debate between Nicholas and the villainous Lord, who can only be described as an exceptionally low-rent answer to Alan Rickman in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’.

It is my reckoning that you should give this one a miss.

It's Got: Willem Dafoe wearing an absurd skin-coloured jumper with a naked torso drawn on the front.

It Needs: To show us what the matching trousers look like.

DVD Extras Soundbites, and some unimaginatively-titled featurettes called ‘Thriller’, ‘Production Design’, ‘The Actors’ and ‘On Location’. DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

The Name of the Rose

Summary

Medieval monotony.

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