Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Hitman, a Priest, and a Confession

When a cold-blooded hitman bursts into a hotel room to execute someone, the intended victim does something unexpected: he asks the hitman for a moment to make his peace with God. The hitman lowers his gun as the victim takes a chain with a crucifix from around his neck, holds it tightly in his hands, kneels down with eyes closed, and begins moving his lips in silent prayer. Now peaceful and resigned to his fate, the victim opens his eyes, looks at the hitman, and says, "I forgive you." The hitman hesitates, looking confused and even regretfully at a peace he's never seen before, but then pulls the trigger anyway.

That's the incident that propels the story in the new online web series on, and across the DBG network, called The Confession. Shot partially in the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York City, the series stars Kiefer Sutherland as the hitman, and John Hurt as the priest to whom he contentiously goes to gain an understanding of what he witnessed.

Sutherland's character is definitely complex. He enters the confessional and speaks words from a bygone era of his childhood: "Bless me Father for I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed. I confess to Almighty God and to you, Father. It's been thirty-five years since my last confession."

When the priest asks if he's sorry for his sins, he says, "No," and goes on to explain he killed a man last night. The hitman isn't there for forgiveness, but rather to understand the peace he witnessed come over his victim the night before.

This begins a back-and-forth between Sutherland and Hurt that is intercut with scenes from the hitman's past. Though the flashbacks are interesting and well-done, the meat of the story hinges on the dynamic Sutherland and Hurt bring to their roles and their natural gravitas as actors. I felt like I could listen to the two of them debate morality and theology for an hour without getting bored. Those areas of morality and theology set this story apart.

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