The Prophet's Game


TAGLINE: “A serial killer is playing a deadly game.” – Suicide Kerplunk, maybe?

IMDb Rating: 5.0/10

“The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places, how are the mighty fallen!”

Had we come up with so beautiful a piece of prose we’d have definitely knocked off early for the day. In fact, we’d have probably closed the laptop and immediately vowed never to write again. Any attempt to repeat that kind of majesty is guaranteed to end in crushing disappointment.

Indeed, the history books are filled with artists who never allowed their shining achievement to be dimmed by any form of crassly inferior follow up – Joseph Heller’s 22nd catch, JD Salinger’s rye catcher, Owen Paul’s favourite waste of time. The tenet sent down by these behemoths is simple – get in, create magic, get out.

Of course an attitude like this doesn’t work in the real world and certainly not in the unreal world of Hollywood, with an army of agents, managers, publicists, pharmacists and prostitutes all looking for their next 10%. Surely then the basic idea is to dust off your copy of the King James Version, take a long hard look at the last five words of this essay’s opening sentence and vow that no one will ever have cause to use it to describe you…

The Prophet's Game

“One day I’m going to write the foreword for a book of poetry by Michael Madsen”

A film career which began in the mid 50s riding the coat tails of best pal James Dean, didn’t really rev into gear until dusk set on the 60s, when working both sides of the camera, as well as behind the typewriter on ‘Easy Rider’,  ironically catapulted Dennis Hopper into the mainstream despite its counter-culture manifesto.

Espousing the oft-used filmmaker’s principle “one for me, one for them”, Hopper steered a steady course between guaranteed crowd pleasers and edgier independent work. Of course both came together gloriously in 1979 when he arguably ripped the rug out – Eric Roberts / The Alternate style – from right under the feet of mad method-ists Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now.’

Hopper’s career has never really reached that peak again – and yes, we are  factoring in his largely forgotten Oscar nomination for the largely forgotten mid 80s high school basketball drama ‘Hoosiers.’

‘Red Rock West’ and ‘True Romance’ back-to-back would have made for a decent evening’s entertainment back in 1994, but not if you made it a triple bill with ‘Super Mario Bros’, such was the chronology of Hopper’s career at the time. ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’ were released a mere four weeks apart in the US, and even the most obsessive Hopperinos weren’t exactly hesitant over which movie to see when ‘Basquait’ and ‘Space Truckers’ appeared in multiplexes at the same time.

The Prophet's Game

Never watch 'The Prophet's Game' with both eyes open

Having said that, Hopper seemed to carry himself with such cool grace that you wonder if the acrid stench coming from the silage heap of the crap he’s made in the past isn’t some great big joke at Hollywood’s expense. Maybe Hopper is still that crazy longhair, triumphantly bestriding his pimped out Harley Davidson Hydraglide and flipping the bird to the man as he disappears into a golden sunset. Of course, that would be the idealist’s point of view. We’re not idealists. We’re cynics. And with good reason. We’ve seen ‘The Prophet’s Game.’

The sadly-missed 007 legend Desmond “Q” Llewellyn’s final lines on screen were: “I’ve always tried to teach you two things. Never let them see you bleed and always have an escape plan.” Following this logic, in ‘The Prophet’s Game’, Dennis Hopper is a stuck pig trapped in a room with no doors.

One of eight Hopper projects listed as being released in 1999 – of which only the under-valued ‘EdTV’ sparks even the vaguest recollection – The Prophet’s Game sees Hopper plays an ex-detective whose daughter has been slain by a vicious serial killer – maybe – who comes out of retirement – sort of – to track down the killer – possibly. The twist is that Hopper can visualize the murderer’s next kill – we think – and so he’s in a race against time, and the audience’s patience, to prevent more carnage – or perhaps not. As is probably obvious, we haven’t the faintest idea what was going on and, honestly, we managed to stay awake throughout.

Every single aspect of plot, structure and character is shot through with such a bewildering vagueness that it’s practically impossible to tell who is trying to do what to whom and who’s trying to stop them.

Who? What? Where? When? How? And why? Ask any of these questions during ‘The Prophet’s Game’ and all you’ll get back for your trouble is the look a guppy fish will give you if you ask him the square root of 7,239.

The Prophet's Game

One more can of refreshing beer won't hurt...

In another insult to its audience’s collective intelligence, there’s a suspicious amount of a particular brand of anaemic Dutch lager on very prominent display throughout the movie. ‘What? Another murder? Let’s get over there right away… right after I’ve taken a long, cooling gulp of this delicious, crisp nectar.’

Now, we’re all for films that divide opinion and create debate but when opinion is divided along the lines of “No, you liked the film more” and debate is limited to subjects like “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” then you probably haven’t quite achieved what you set out to.

The filmmakers involved – chief among them producer / star Robert Yocum (who’s clearly 15 years too old to be playing the lead role in the film and 15 years too young to be in charge of its production) and director David Worth, (once Clint Eastwood’s cinematographer of choice, now swinging his own megaphone on glorious Bad Film fodder like ‘Shark Attack 3: Megaladon’, clearly had big ideas for ‘The Prophet’s Game’ with its weak as lager-p*ss plot, hide-and-seek twists and complex character dynamics.

Together, they’ve produced a nonsensical kitten-clad-in-Velcro-trying-to-escape-a-bramble-bush of a movie, a testament to how much their intentions exceeded their ability. The ambition was clearly to make another ‘Se7en’. Ultimately, they barely scraped a 2.

One Comment

  1. D says:

    AMEN, I love the way you expressed it all. Giggle, you make me want to watch more horrible movies to have a reason to read and understand your critiques. Cheers

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