The tagline for The Order claims that "There is a Fate worse than Death". And for me, it was being forced to sit through this movie in order to write a review for all the loyal readers at DVD Talk!
Maybe they should have titled The Order "A Priest's Tale" instead, since director Brian Helgeland (who also wrote and produced) reunites Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossaman and Mark Addy from A Knight's Tale for this far from thrilling movie. Set in Rome, The Order tells the story of a "Sin Eater" (played by Benno Furmann) – a virtually immortal man who has the power to absolve the sins of others and grant them access to eternal life and heaven upon their deaths.
Alex Bernier (Ledger) is a New York City priest who is recruited by the head of his order (Peter Weller, in a woefully miscast role here), to head to Rome and hunt down the Sin Eater. Alex teams up with fellow priest Thomas Garrett (Addy, the one bright spot in this mess) and Mara Sinclair (Sossaman), a woman who once tried to kill Alex, but for whom he has an undying, forbidden love.
One of the interesting things about The Order is that once Alex meets up with the Sin Eater – who goes by the name William Eden – he is drawn to his power and what he does. Sadly, however, the film takes over an hour of its 102 minute running time before it sparks any interest…and by that point in the film, most viewers will be so bored and confused with the storyline, that nothing that happens in the final half hour makes up for what we have been forced to sit through already.
Perhaps to make up for lost revenue (the film bombed horribly at the box office…costing about $38 million to make and pulling in only about $7 million in the United States), 20th Century Fox is marketing the DVD as a horror film. It's not. It's simply a drama with a few moments of visual effects here and there, and perhaps a few moments that will make you "jump"…but those are probably a good thing, since they will keep you from completely dozing off!
The DVD is two-sided, with a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer on Side A, and the full-frame version on Side B. I found the anamorphic version to be quite good, with only brief glimpses of dirt on the transfer, and only the slightest evidence of grain in the print.
The English Track is in 5.1 Dolby and sounds quite nice. It's aggressive, but not overdone – so there's a proper balance between the dialogue of "quieter" moments in the movie, and the action of "bigger" scenes. Viewers will also be given the option of listening to a 2.0 French Dolby Track.
The biggest extra here is a Feature Length Commentary Track by director Brian Helgeland. However, I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed by the information Helgeland presents on the commentary, as you never hear him go into reasons why he feels this movie didn't find an audience, or expresses any regret over how any of the scenes were filmed or what he may have done differently. While he does tell us a lot about the locations and how certain scenes were filmed, he also spends about a quarter of the time describing the obvious – the (please forgive me!) Cardinal Sin of recording a commentary track.
Other bonuses include eight Deleted Scenes from the movie, one of which is actually "dailies" from the shoot. These are not anamorphic, aren't in the best of shape, and add very little to the actual film. It's easy to see why they were cut. Each of these scenes comes with an optional Director's Commentary, which can be turned on or off.
Finally, there is the Theatrical Trailer for The Order, which is also not anamorphic.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I wouldn't be placing any orders for The Order if I were you. While the film does have a somewhat interesting closing act, everything that comes before is so drawn-out and confusing, that even those who think that Heath Ledger is a hunk and a half (and ladies, you know who you are) will want to avoid this movie at all costs.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go off to confession. Forgive me father…I have sat through Brian Helgeland's The Order!