The latest entry in “The Crow” franchise, “The Crow – Wicked Prayer”, is quite different from past entries. This time, the story of The Crow is set in the great, open Southwest as opposed to the gritty urban settings of previous films and this gives a much more “mystical” feel to the movie. Starring Edward Furlong (“T2”, “American History X”) as Jimmy Cuervo/The Crow, David Boreanaz (“Angel”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as Luc Crash/Death, Tara Reid (”American Pie”, “Urban Legend”) as Crash’s girlfriend, Lola Byrne, Emmanuelle Chriqui (“Wrong Turn”, “Detroit Rock City”) as Jimmy’s Native American girlfriend, Lily Who Ignites The Dawn and in smaller roles, Dennis Hopper, Danny Trejo and singer Macy Gray, the film is an interesting blend of Native American/Hispanic folklore as well as Satanism and, of course, The Crow legend.
Furlong’s character is an ex-con, accused of killing a Native American who was attacking his girlfriend Lily. This, of course, makes him an outcast among the very people he lives with and with the appearance of a fellow former con, Luc Crash/Death (Boreanaz) and his three other Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War (Marcus Chong), Famine (Tito Ortiz) and Pestilence (Yuji Okumoto) as well as Crash’s, gun-toting girl, Lola Byrne (Reid), things begin to go very wrong for Jimmy and Lily. After both are murdered by this motley group, who hope to make Crash the Antichrist if a certain ritual can be performed before sunrise, Jimmy reluctantly returns from the dead as The Crow, to avenge his and Lily’s deaths and stop Crash from attaining his evil goal.
I found the film to be pretty good as it is quite a departure from previous “Crow” films. While Furlong might not be everyone’s first choice to play such a strong, mythic character as The Crow, he imbues the character with such pain, anger and love for his Lily that his slight physical attributes are forgotten, watching him go up against the over-the-top Boreanaz and his demonic minions. Boreanaz starts out as your typical “jolly” bad guy but, for some reason, he takes his character into an almost laughable, hammy, desperately-needing-to-be-reined-in by director Mungia area. I had my doubts about Tara Reid but found her performance to be actually quite decent as Luc’s white trash girlfriend, particularly at the end. Plus, she gets to wear some interesting costumes and masks that are very striking on her. Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Lily is the “innocent” of the film, the only truly good character and while she isn’t seen much, when she is on screen, she is breathtakingly beautiful and one can understand Jimmy’s rage at her senseless murder and mutilation. Hopper, Trejo and Gray all play characters whose presence in the film range from the “What were they thinking?” to “What is the point?” schools of acting.
The cinematography by Kurt Brabbe is gorgeous and really captures the beauty of the Southwest – the movie was shot around Salt Lake City – and the music by Jamie Christopherson merges elements of both the Hispanic and Native American cultures. No rock songs here as on the usual “Crow” soundtracks but it doesn’t matter.
My biggest gripe would have to be how little attention was given to the relationships between all the characters. There is a brief flashback that shows Jimmy and Luc had a prior friendship of sorts. And although all the baddies are introduced at the beginning of the film with stop action title cards explaining their backgrounds and that helps give them some history, none of it is ever gone into in any depth. There is also a “subplot” about a mine and how it is affecting the Native Americans but that point is dropped early in the film. Plus, Hopper’s and Gray’s characters totally threw off the last part of the film – they were glaringly out of place and completely unnecessary.
Altogether, I would have to say this is the strongest “Crow” since the original and I wouldn’t mind seeing Furlong and Chriqui return again as Jimmy Cuervo and his Lily.