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Movie review: 'The Rite' (1.5 stars)

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The Rite
1.5 stars
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom
Starring Colin O’Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins, Ciaran Hinds
Rated R

Priest movies have a bad track record, and “The Rite” is no exception.

Newcomer Colin O’Donoghue plays Michael Kovak, a seminary student with a promising career in the priesthood. Thanks to his personal baggage, though (Daddy was an oppressive religious freak), he’s not sure he even believes in God. His crisis of faith is put to the test when he takes an exorcism course at the Vatican and becomes apprentice to Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), one of the best demon-purgers in the biz.

An exorcism procedural could have been a terrific premise, but “The Rite” bungles everything by letting Kovak’s ho-hum personal issues take the spotlight. His waffling over God is tedious. Whenever Father Lucas yells at his possessed clients, roughing them up when necessary, Kovak incessantly pipes up in disapproval, exhorting the need for a psychiatrist, not an exorcist. His endless grappling is the crux of the movie, but it flatlines into a dull narrative.

Hopkins is intense as per usual, and he manages to finesse his performance with welcome touches of humor. It’s all for naught, however, in the context of such a tedious, insipid movie.

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