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Sunday, January 25, 2009

"The Last Templar" Review: A Strong Start But An Unsatisfying Finish

When a network schedules a big expensive mini-series in a non-sweeps month, that usually means the mini-series is not very good.

But that’s not the case with “The Last Templar”—at least for the first 3 hours and 40 minutes…

“Templar” stars Mira Sorvino as Dr. Tess Chaykin, an archaeologist who has hung up her digging boots for museum work due to being a single mother. But when a group of mysterious men dressed as Templars steal several artifacts from a Vatican exhibit, Tess decides to pick her boots up and take off in search of a legend.

The Templars were a deeply religious order charged with protecting Christianity. According to legend, they had a large treasure that they hid from the invading Muslims in 1291. Tess soon realizes that a stolen decoder holds the key to finding that treasure.

Watching Tess’s every move is FBI Special Agent Sean Daley (Scott Foley) who is trying to solve not only the thefts but the murders of the thieves. Watching his every move is Monsignor Michael D’Angelis (Victor Garber), who is receiving pressure from the Vatican to retrieve the stolen artifacts.

It becomes obvious rather quickly that there is much more going on than just treasure hunting as more and more people join the search for the treasure.

The first part is pretty solid as the foundation is laid for the treasure hunting that dominates the second part. There are many twists as we learn just who is behind all of the intrigue. But honestly, you’ll know who’s behind it before the movie tells you because of the hints in the actor’s performance—or maybe I was just paying too much attention because I love the actor in question.

And speaking of the cast, all of the attention in the promotion for the movie has been focused on Mira Sorvino because she’s an Academy Award winner. But in all honesty, she’s not always completely convincing in the role. No, the reason to watch is Scott Foley who is adorable in his role as Agent Daley. This guy truly needs a better vehicle than the hilarious excuse for a drama known as “The Unit,” and this movie shows why. Plus, his chemistry with Sorvino is pretty palpable.

The movie shows off a lot of great special effects as it roars toward the revelation of what exactly everyone is after—and that’s where it falls apart. I just couldn’t really get behind the whole concept. Then the last fifteen minutes dissolves into a diatribe on faith that doesn’t always make sense.

And for a movie that delivered big moment after big moment for three hours and forty minutes, it misses HUGELY on two major moments in the closing scenes that will most likely leave viewers a little disappointed. I understand setting up a possible sequel, but viewers of this movie deserve a satisfying ending—and I don’t think we get it.

That’s not to say that “The Last Templar” isn’t worth watching, because it is. Just don’t expect to be completely happy at the end of it…

“The Last Templar” airs Sunday, January 25th and Monday, January 26th at 9 p.m. on NBC…

Photos Credit: Jan Thjis/NBC