From the Archive – Sanctuary (1997)


“From hood to priesthood.”

Inflicted by Tibor Takacs.
Perpetrated by Mark Dacascos (which readers may come to think of as ‘all you need to know’) and friends.

OK; so there’s this priest, right. Only he’s really an assassin, in hiding, after doing something he can’t face. A series of flashbacks reveal that he was part of an elite team, trained from childhood, loyal only to their commander, etc, etc. After years living quietly as a priest, they come after him, and he and his former lover have to shoot some people and reveal assorted nefariousness.

Um…That’s pretty much it. There’s probably some soul-searching involved somewhere.

What’s wrong with it?

Sanctuary is a film so dismal I can’t even be bothered to write more of a plot summary than I gave above. It’s full of dull characters, engaging in dull fights and even duller conversations. It’s very difficult to become engaged enough to care whether any of them live or die, except that maybe you want them off the damned screen. I only remember the lead character’s name is Luke because that’s my name.

What’s right with it?

Actually, nothing. Really, seriously, nothing.

How bad is it really?

Sanctuary is awesomely, mind-numbingly, stomach-churningly, soul-destroyingly bad. Only sheer bloody-mindedness kept me awake through the whole thing, and I wasn’t even tired. It’s suffocatingly boring, packed with characters who don’t even cease to be boring when they’re being cartoonishly evil or unpleasant.

Best bit?

The end credits came as something of a relief.

What’s up with…?

It’s a little difficult to write this section, mostly because in the case of Sanctuary, I just don’t care enough.


Production Values – Poor. The dialogue is mumbled (this is a common flaw in this breed of film; they think characters who can’t speak above a whisper unless they’re screaming in barely coherent rage automatically seem deep and sensitive), and many scenes underlit. It’s all pretty cheap and dismal. 18

Dialogue and Performances – I’ve seen worse, but then I have seen some very poor performances. The dialogue is pretty poor, and unforgivably, is not even memorably poor. 19

Plot and Execution – No real effort has been put into developing or moving the narrative. Many of the primary plot junctures are ill-explained and nonsensical:

  • “I’m the new member of your team, who have trained and lived together since childhood. No way I’ll be trouble.”
  • “We need blackmail material against our new Congressional overseer; let’s trick him into killing one of our best operatives on camera.”
  • “We’ve lost them! No wait; I’ve picked them up on the plot-cam!”

In short: Dire. 20

Randomness – Aside from the above-mentioned narrative ‘eccentricities’, there isn’t a great deal of randomness. Unless you count the order of assassin-priests who recruit Father Luke at the end of the film. They’re pretty random. And the sporadic, almost spontaneous nature of the attempts on Father Luke’s life probably count. 10

Waste of Potential – This could have been a nice little thriller about an assassin in hiding, whose past catches up with him. The idea of a team trained together since childhood was a good one, but the film would have needed much more work to make something of it. 15.

Overall – 82%


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