The three stars are all on good form here. Arquette is always watchable in spite of the material she's sometimes working with. Byrne has perhaps the most difficult task as his character is hampered by an element of cliche. Pryce on the other hand puts is hammy Bond villain in The World is Not Enough well behind him and reminds us that he can be a solid performer given the chance. Like many films, this worked far better as a teaser campaign than it does as a film. The main trailer was terrific stuff, promising possession featuring unpleasant demonic voices speaking in ancient (sub-titled) tongues, Vatican cover ups and even the possibility of the second coming of Christ. The film delivers to a certain extent, and any film that portrays the Vatican as a global corporation not entirely a bastion of transparency is going to get a favourable hearing from this reviewer. But former pop video director Rupert Wainwright (shouldn't there be a 'III' on the end of a name like that?) is overly concerned with the superficial visual potential of the plot rather than the more intellectual/cerebral path it also offers.
The result then (with an irritatingly 'hip' soundtrack by Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corrigan) may be polished but Stigmata would have been much better had it decided to focus its intentions more sharply. To be fair it's a well-paced and entertaining two hours but in all honesty this isn't so very different from the Schwarzenegger vehicle End of Days, although I'm sure all involved would strongly argue otherwise. 6/10
Rob Dyer (January 2002)
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