Pandora's box. Wightman, D'Arcy and Cunningham try to figure out the secrets of the Loculus.
dir-scr Stuart Urban
with James D'Arcy, Natasha Wightman, Terence Stamp, Udo Kier, Liam Cunningham, Derek Jacobi, Celia Imrie, Ron Moody, Heathcote Williams, Charlotte Weston, Sidney Kean, Diran Meghreblian
release UK 12.Apr.02
02/UK 1h41

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
a conspiracy that will change history This rather decent biblical-themed thriller has a clever plot that slowly but surely draws us into the intrigue and drama. It's a bit unambitious, but it's also nice to see a suspenseful film that keeps us hooked without ever going over the top. Basically, it's about a lost religious relic, the key to the Knights Templar and their quest for world domination. A renegade knight (Stamp) passes on the task to his estranged son, the young ex-con Jake (D'Arcy), who teams up with a priest (Cunningham) and a sexy alchemist (Wightman) to find the relic, figure out its secret and stop the Grand Master (Kier) from doing whatever he plans to do with it.

The incessant conspiracies, secret codes, underground societies and scientific magic that litter this film keep us absolutely gripped. Well, we have to pay attention just to figure out what's going on! But Urban has put the film together so coherently that we never get lost. Instead, he lures us into the story with a smart script that gives us just enough information when we need it, setting us up nicely for each surprise and never resorting to cheap theatrics or a big apocalyptic climax. The result is one of the more intelligent thrillers in recent memory, done on a small scale that makes it all the more believable (well, sort of). The production design is excellent as well--we never feel like we're on a movie set or in the grip of overwhelming special effects, while the heroes (especially Cunningham) are authentic people we can identify with. Meanwhile, Kier does a lot of effectively evil grimacing ... and there's also that fabulously silly wig in the early/flashback sequences! Yes, it does all feel a bit small for the big screen--more like a TV movie than a proper feature film. There's never that overpowering sense of doom and gloom--it's much more character-based, in that sense. And it's also one of the better thrillers in cinemas at the moment.
adult themes and situations, violence, language cert 15 26.Feb.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
a conspiracy that will change history send your review to Shadows... Tina, email: 5/5 "I was surprised by just how good this film was. I was hooked rather quickly into the world it created. Aside from the scenes with a bearded hippy looking man, who we never really get to know, the film was utterly entrancing. The characters felt real, and very true to life. And the plot wasn't too far fetched, it kept you guessing, and wondering what was around each corner. It wasn't a cheap horror film, nor a cheesy romance. It was an intelligent ride through conspiracy, alchemy and the occult. Udo Kier always makes a brilliant bad guy. And with the help of James D'Arcy, we're never lost. Liam Cunngingham puts a new prospective on an old role. It's also nice to see a woman (Wightman) who'ssmart and doesn't look like a model. All in all it's a highly enjoyable film, that I've had no trouble watching more than once." (29.Sep.07)
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall