The Covenant

2006-12-31 11:13

In 1692, five families with untold power formed a covenant of silence. One family lusting for more, was banished. Their bloodline disappearing without a trace. Until now.

Privilege and beauty abound at Spenser Academy, a New England boarding school for the region's reigning elite. The Covenant tells the story of the Sons of Ipswich, four young students bound by their sacred ancestry. As descendants of the original families who settled in Ipswich Colony in the 1600's, the boys have all been born with special powers. When a fifth descendant suddenly moves to town, secrets begin to unravel which threaten to break the covenant of silence that has protected their families for hundreds of years.


When you’re forced to sit through a movie as infuriatingly vapid as The Covenant you often feel the urge to exaggerate about its awfulness. You want to rant that the actors were picked for looks not talent, that the script is recycled, the plot is meaningless and that the director can’t auteur his way out of a paper bag. But, since all of these things are objectively true, you don’t even have the fun of a little creative license.

Most of the simpering, generic pretty boys that crowd this movie are, in reality, ex-models. The pouty lead, Steven Strait, gives the same calibre of performance (or lack thereof) that he did in the equally empty Undiscovered and Sky High. Luckily for him these roles all rely mostly on frowning sincerely and looking extra hot, like modelling but with a few badly written lines thrown in.

But Strait towers above his supporting cast of other model “slash” actors. Perhaps that’s his strategy – always act alongside people so awful that you end of looking like Robert Deniro by comparison. Sebastian Stan, almost the only non-model in the film is – surprise, surprise – the evil invader. “Remember kids – ordinary equals bad, genetically perfect equals good.” As for the female roles, they are so underwritten and underperformed as to fade into the background like props.

But hey, this isn’t exactly On the Waterfront they are butchering here. Career hack J.S. Cardone churns out scripts in-between his day job as an excutive producer. With titles like Sniper 2 and Vampires: The Turning under his belt, we shouldn’t be expecting much more than B-grade thrills. But in this case we can’t even expect that. The screenplay is so empty of any significant action that it barely manages to fill out its 90 minutes. There’s not one ounce of tension in the whole movie. Even the climactic battle at the end is a giant disappointment.

Luckily for Cardone he has picked himself a director of equally mediocre talents. Renny Harlin has made a career of empty, glossy action films like this one. From Deep Blue Sea to Cutthroat Island, no-one does pointlessly pretty and unforgivably stupid like ‘ole Renny. And he’s in his element here, layering on the gothic atmousphere like lard and hyping up the action sequences as hard as he can go. Harlin has always been a filmmaker of adolescent appetites, so perhaps he is perfect for The Covenant. In any case, the two certainly deserve one another.

The only glimmer of frisson in the entire running time is the above average special effects. James McQuaide, who did such marvellous work on the equally gothic Underworld, has cooked up some impressive visual trickery, including a scene where Caleb effectively teleports his car through an oncoming truck. But the piece de resistance is a scene in which hundreds of magically conjured spiders crawl all over Jessica Lucas. It’s as close as the movie ever comes to scary.

Perhaps The Covenant is the perfect fantasy movie for young teenagers. It’s like being at one of the cooler older kids’ parties – everyone stands around looking impossibly hip and not doing too much, they all drive fast cars and bikes, there are a bevies of pretty girls draped all over them and there are no messy curfews to get in their way. As for clever dialogue, like, who needs it. And drama? Like, whatever. This is a movie after all, don’t make us, like, think or anything.

- Alistair Fairweather
The only thing supernatural about this movie is that anyone would willingly sit through 90 minutes of this glossy, empty nonsense.

ape 2006/11/07 10:28 PM
covenant damn right al
andrew 2006/11/24 11:12 AM
convenanant I can't believe I watched that..
carmen janet 2007/01/07 7:02 PM
opinion i thought the movie was very good, i'm tired of the same takin out guts ,dirty and sick thrillers. this was a classy, yet mysterious, action, luv story. it was refreshin 4 a change when is the sequel comin out? if so ,i hope steven strait is in it. he's very sexy and what a voice....!!!!
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