DAN Stevens is the most successful alumnus of the worldwide hit British series, “Downton Abbey”. It started in 2010 with him playing Matthew Crawley, paired with Michelle Dockery. Their tandem became a hit and Michelle also became much sought after in Hollywood like Dan, but she never left the series and was even a part of its full length film version.
Dan left the show in 2012. He asked that his character be killed after he became in demand in Hollywood. He relocated to America with his wife and kids and has never stopped acting ever since. He’s not choosy and does both lead and supporting roles.
In 2014 alone, he did four films: “The Guest” (where he played the title role), “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” (as Sir Lancelot), “A Walk Among the Tombstone” (support to Liam Neeson) and “The Cobbler” (support to Adam Sandler).
He did more films but his biggest hit is “Beauty and the Beast” (where he played Beast to Emma Watson) in 2017, when he also started in his own hit series, “Legion” (where he played the lead role of the mutant son of Charles Xavier), which ran for three seasons, 2017 to 2019. He has made 12 other movies since then. This year, he has started a new TV series, “Kipo and The Wonder Beasts”. No period of rest at all.
Two of his films are available on Netflix and we just saw them, “Apostle” and “The Guest”, along with his 8-episode “Legion” series. One incontrovertible fact is that he is really one of the best looking leading men today and he can most certainly act. We’d first review “The Apostle”.
“Apostle” is directed by Gareth Evans, the Welsh filmmaker who made it big directing the action-thriller, “The Raid”, in Indonesia, a worldwide hit that even had a sequel. “Apostle” is a far cry from the action films he’s noted for. This is a very dark drama that starts like “Wicker Man”, a mystery thriller about a man who gets entangled with a dangerous cult.
The story is set in 1905 and Stevens plays Thomas, who goes to a remote island in Wales to search for his sister who is kidnapped and held captive for ransom by a self proclaimed prophet, Malcolm (Michael Sheen.) He infiltrates the bizarre cult, pretending to be a believer while looking for his sister’s prison. The tension increases when the leader realizes they have an intruder and his sister is threatened to be killed, so Thomas is finally discovered.
From hereon, the gruesomeness and violence intensifies that you’d want to avert your eyes from all the suffering and pain taking place on the screen. A pair of ill-fated young lovers are ruthlessly tortured and killed by their own fanatical kin after the poor girl is discovered to be pregnant out of wedlock.
The island turns out to have a sinister ancient earth goddess who is guarded by a scary monster-like entity whose face is covered by bandages like a mummy. Other people are mercilessly killed and Thomas himself is caught by the menacing monster and tortured with glee.
The movie has very good production values. The sets and the costumes look authentic and the cinematography captures the island’s gloomy gritty look that suits the film’s lugubrious tone perfectly.
Stevens is excellent as the beleaguered hero who lost his faith as a Christian missionary in China. He is caked in dirt and mud in the film’s most crucial scenes. He becomes increasingly helpless and desperate as he fights for dear life while being subjected to barbarous acts.
The director wants us to feel grossed out with what’s happening on screen and he achieves that. The film is about faith but it seems to be set in a godless demented world. But sometimes, Evans indulges himself too much and seems to relish all the savage bloodbaths that some scenes just go on and on even if it has already established its ghastly point. As such, the movie feels interminable and needlessly runs for about two hours and 20 minutes. You’d wish they pruned it to quicken the film’s pacing.