Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal, Richard Armitage, Nikos Karathanos, Akillas Karazisis, John Lynch, Rúaidhrí Conroy, Hugh O'Conor, Donncha Crowley, Stanley Weber, Peter Cosgrove, Lochlann O'Mearáin, Tristan McConnell, David O'Reilly, Gaëtan Wenders
Written by: Jamie Hannigan
Directed by: Brendan Muldowney
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: English, French, Irish Gaelic, Latin, with English subtitles
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/11/2017

Pilgrimage (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Monk Business

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Brendan Muldowney directs this historical dirge with snooze-inducing seriousness, a dutiful reliance on genre chestnuts and an overall lack of excitement; Game of Thrones this is most certainly not.

In Pilgrimage, young Brother Diarmuid (Tom Holland) is an inexperienced monk living in a remote monastery in Ireland, circa 1209 A.D. His friend, an unnamed mute monk (Jon Bernthal) looks after him.

They receive a visit from Brother Geraldus (Stanley Weber), telling them that the Church needs a holy relic that the monks have in their possession, and that they must begin a long and treacherous journey, protecting the relic the entire way.

They are joined by a soldier (Richard Armitage), who may or may not be trustworthy. As the journey wears on, Brother Diarmuid experiences unheard-of violence, and finds courage he never knew existed.

Viewers that loved Tom Holland's exuberance in Spider-Man: Homecoming will find none of that here, as he merely looks damp and confused. The actors speak in various languages, including Gaelic, with subtitles, though all of it sounds tired. (It's mostly arguing.)

Jon Bernthal comes out better, perhaps due to the fact that he has no dialogue; his expressive face and impressive physicality show that he's a true pro.

Muldowney's palette is gray and somber, and the music drones on, which will make viewers glad that they weren't around 800 years ago; it doesn't look like much fun.

But, rather than keeping with any kind of old-fashioned motif, the director uses modern, wobbly hand-held camera for his muddy close-ups. Then, when the gruesome violence erupts, he responds with fast, choppy editing. Overall, this adventureless adventure is about as thrilling as what the holy relic actually turns out to be when its box is opened.

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