Tag: Raymond Khoury

The Last Templar

There’s one major problem which infiltrates “The Last Templar” almost from the moment it begins: they’ve changed a lot of stuff from the original novel by Raymond Khoury. This obviously isn’t something that would be an issue for someone who’s never read the book, but for those who’ve been wondering how it made the transition from print to screen (and who didn’t catch the miniseries when it originally aired on NBC earlier this year), accept this assurance that you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed. Everyone else, however, will probably enjoy the adventure well enough, provided their suspension of disbelief is fully charged. Archaeologist Tess Chaykin, played by Mira Sorvino, is essentially a female version of Indiana Jones, except one who now has a child and isn’t quite as ready to go globetrotting for ancient artifacts as she once was. When four people on horseback dressed as Templars storm New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art during its exhibition and swipe key artifacts, Tess muscles her way into the investigation, albeit against the desire of FBI Agent Sean Reilly (Scott Foley), and ends up traveling across the world in an attempt to discover the lost secret of…wait for it…The Last Templar.

Veteran producer Robert Halmi Sr. turns in another good-looking yarn, and the cast is certainly strong, with Victor Garber, Kenneth Welsh, and Omar Sharif also on hand. Sorvino and Foley have the kind of chemistry that makes you wish this was a better movie than it actually is. The big action scene at the beginning of the film, where Sorvino swipes a horse and goes jousting in Central Park, is ridiculous enough to lose a lot of viewers right off the bat, and there are more than a few moments where you’ll cringe at the dialogue. (How can anyone not groan when Sorvino punctuates an ass-kicking by snarling, “I’m nobody’s baby”?) Still, the aforementioned chemistry between the leads is generally enough to keep you watching, and those who want to get themselves pumped up for “Angels & Demons” will probably find “The Last Templar” an enjoyable diversion. And if you do, then you’ll also want to watch the making-of featurette on the DVD, which is about as entertaining as these things get.

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I was all ready to write a positive review of “The Last Templar”…

…but then I saw the last 15 minutes.

NBC’s four-hour miniseries based on Raymond Khoury’s novel of the same name starts out a bit rough, but eventually finds its groove once the two main characters — archeologist Tess Chaykin (Mira Sorvino) and FBI agent Sean Daley (Scott Foley) — get some real screen time together. The plot revolves around the lost Templar treasure and a series of related murders. At its best, “The Last Templar” resembles “Romancing the Stone” with Sorvino playing the unruly adventurer and Daley the unwitting passenger that’s along for the ride. At its worst, it reminded me of “The Librarian” movies on the USA Network.

When “The Last Templar” works, it is due to the chemistry between Chaykin and Daley. Their budding romance is cute and there are several laugh-out-loud lines. Given the heavily religious subject matter, the miniseries does a nice job of balancing between the faithful (Daley) and the skeptic (Chaykin). That is, until the last 15 minutes, when the story goes off its rails.

At this point, I should warn anyone that might want to watch “The Last Templar” that there are spoilers ahead. For those that think that they still might want to watch it, I would recommend the miniseries to religious types that are looking for a little Indiana Jones/Jack Colton-esque adventure.


So the Templar treasure is supposed to be the Gospel of Jesus, which would, according to Chaykin’s mentor/adversary, Bill Vance, prove that Jesus was in fact mortal and debunk Christianity as a whole. The only problem is that the treasure is at the bottom of the sea, where the Templar ship went down back in the 13th century.

After bringing up the figurehead from the Templar ship, Chaykin, Daley and Vance do battle on the deck of the boat during a storm and the ship is capsized. Tess washes ashore on a Greek isle and awakens to find Sean in the next room in a coma. She goes back to the beach to pray (for the first time, apparently) for Sean’s life and conveniently finds the figurehead, which also washed ashore. Inside, she finds the supposed Gospel of Jesus. So then she, an experienced archeologist, decides to open this priceless treasure on top of a windy cliff in the open air. As she’s examining the scrolls (which are literally blowing around in her hand because it’s so windy), Vance (who also apparently washed ashore the same island) manages to sneak up on her. Mind you, the two are on top of the cliff with no cover whatsoever. In the real world, Tess would have seen Vance coming from a mile away. (Of course, in the real world, Tess would have taken the scrolls back to safety before examining them.) But there they are, on a windy cliff, arguing over what they should do with the scrolls when the menacing Vance continues to approach Tess. She’s afraid of him and the scrolls slip out of her hands. Vance goes over the edge of the cliff and dies. The supposed Gospel of Jesus is lost forever.

That scene was bad enough, but it was followed up by a flashback to ancient times where we learn that the Gospel of Jesus wasn’t written by Jesus after all. It was written by the Templars to (I guess) dispel the notion that Jesus was the Son of God. Instead of just leaving the “was Jesus for real?” question unanswered, “The Last Templar” decided to hit us over the head with the fact that the Gospel was a fake. That, coupled with Tess’ prayers being answered with Sean’s awakening, made for a very heavy-handed conclusion to the story.

In the end, it appears that the miniseries stayed pretty faithful (pun intended) to the conclusion of Khoury’s book, at least based on The Last Templar wikipedia page, so maybe my beef is with Khoury and not with the miniseries. Vance’s appearance on the cliff was ridiculous, and after 3 hours and 45 minutes of doing a pretty good job of balancing faith and science, the miniseries abandoned that to have a feel-good ending for the religious folks.

The bottom line is that if you aren’t religious, don’t bother with “The Last Templar.”

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