Two of Marvel’s current heroes star in this meshing of historical epic and road action thriller from director Brendan Muldowney.
The year is 1209. The place is Ireland, which has been under attack by both tribes and Norman invaders. Brother Diarmud is a novice monk who keeps a watchful eye on a mute man who is there not as a monk but as someone who is there for penance. When the monastery learns they are about to be attack, the High Abbot decides that they must send their ancient relic to Rome. The Cisterian, Brother Geraldus, arrives from Rome to help the monks carry the relic to Rome.
Along the way, the group runs into Raymond de Merville, a French soldier who agrees to help the monks bring the relic to Rome. However, as the group continues their journey, they are under attack by a band of tribal warriors, who steal the relic. Having no other alternative but to band together, the monks set a plan to get the relic back but along the way, they encounter not only betrayal, but soon learn a dark secret with their mute brother that could either hinder or help the group succeed in their mission.
A meshing of historical epic revolving around religion meshed with a road action film filled with loads of fighting and violence, director Brendan Muldowney takes Jamie Hannigan’s script and unleashes a film that delivers on both the dramatic and the action. What helps is the breathtaking scenery of Ireland as we see a group of monks who go on the journey to bring a precious relic to Rome in the 13th Century. The film makes good use of using three languages throughout the film to enhance the dramatic effect. In this case, Gaelic, French, and English, are used in the film.
The cast is quite interesting with the focus being on the Novice and the Mute. They are played by two members of today’s Marvel Universe. Tom Holland, who has taken the mantle of Spider-Man, plays Brother Diarmud, the young novice monk while the Mute is played by Jon Bernthal, who plays the current incarnation of The Punisher in both season two of Daredevil and will have his own Netflix series later this year. Marvel shtick aside, the two deliver some intricate performances as they both bring a sense of humanity amongst the monks.
Stanley Weber plays the Italian monk who is hired to lead the envoy of the sacred relic and does have his doubts when it comes to the Gaelic monks when in one scene, they tell the Italian not to take water from a river because they believe an Irish spirit can curse them. Richard Armitage plays a Norman soldier who tends to play out two sides against each other because the Norman invaders want to take over Ireland while he does have a sense of loyalty when it comes to religion, which plays a vital part of the plot.
The action portion of the film is quite brutal. A the pivotal scene in which the audience gets to see shows the more calm Mute show his nature when he helps the monks against Gaelic tribal warriors attempting to steal the relic. To bring that sense of brutality, the Mute unleashes bashing in a warrior’s head so bad that Brother Diarmud rarely stops his new “brother” while there are many bashings, arrows to the head, and even some pretty torturous sequences that fit considering the era the film is set in.
Pilgrimage is actually a pretty decent film that may have more of the drama feature in the middle, but still delivers thanks to the performances of Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal as the novices who must do what it takes to continue a very dangerous journey.
WFG RATING: B
RLJ Entertainment presents an Irish Film Board production in association with XYZ Films, Savage Productions, Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, and Wrong Men Films. Director: Brendan Muldowney. Producers: John Keville, Conor Barry, and Benoit Roland. Writer: Jamie Hannigan. Cinematography: Tom Comerford. Editing: Mairead McIvor.
Cast: Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal, Richard Armitage, Stanley Weber, John Lynch, Ruaidhri Conroy, Hugh O’Conor, Tristan McConnell, Diarmud de Faoite, Eric Godon, Lochlann O’Mearain, Padraig O’Toole, Gaetan Wenders.
RLJ Entertainment will be releasing the film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on August 11.