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With: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer, Marta Gastini, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Arianna Veronesi, Andrea Calligari, Chris Marquette, Torrey DeVitto, Ben Cheetham, Marija Karan, Rosa Pianeta
Written by: Michael Petroni, based on a book by Matt Baglio
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references
Running Time: 112
Date: 01/26/2011

The Rite (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Possession Obsession

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The main reason to watch The Rite would be to see Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) back in full Hannibal Lecter-style swing, chewing on his lines and salivating over his verbs, using his blocky body, beady eyes and naughty troll's smile to suggest terrifying menace. He's truly spectacular in an over-the-top kind of way; it's too bad the rest of the movie doesn't live up to him.

Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) completes seminary school and intends to resign, but a pushy priest (Toby Jones) coaxes him into traveling to Rome to train as an exorcist. There, Michael finds his natural skepticism getting in the way of his classes, so his instructor sends him to meet Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a working exorcist with more unorthodox methods. He continues to doubt, second-guessing the things he sees, and a pretty, equally skeptical journalist (Alice Braga) tries to get him to talk about his experiences. But more and more weird things begin to happen to Michael that are too close to home. Will he find his faith in time to save himself?

Though director Mikael Håfström (Evil, Derailed, 1408) does cook up at least one chillingly spooky sequence full of shadows and sounds, his main focus here is on the bland Michael (Colin O'Donoghue), whose character arc isn't much of an arc: he doesn't believe and then he does. (The Father Karras character in the original The Exorcist takes much the same journey with far more compelling results.) Poor Alice Braga doesn't have much to do as the girl reporter; however, character actors like Rutger Hauer, Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones suggest more onscreen personality than the script actually grants them.

The 2011 Blu-Ray release from New Line comes with an alternate ending, additional scenes, and a featurette about the real-life priest that inspired the movie.

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