Plot: A holy relic has been under the careful watch of a group of monks, but a visit from a messenger of the Vatican requests a transfer. Brother Geraldus (Stanley Weber) was sent to retrieve the relic and given the source of the orders, the monks comply and send some of their own to bolster the move. One of the elder monks Cirian (John Lynch), a novice monk Diarmuid (Tom Holland), and a laborer known simply as The Mute (Jon Bernthal) represent the relic’s handlers, for what could be an extensive, dangerous trek ahead. In the path lurk Normans, savage warriors, and other who would seek the relic, for their own unique purposes. Some see it as a vessel of power, others as a political tool, and the monks believe it to hold religious importance, especially given some of the things they witness on this journey. But this trip takes a toll on those involved, some more than others, however. Will the relic make it to the Vatican and is so, at what cost to those who have fought to defend it?
Entertainment Value: Pilgrimage has some interesting elements, but is bound to divide audiences in some ways. Those who arrive looking for the next Braveheart kind of action/period piece will be a little down, as the pace is quite slow and the action isn’t that emphasized. A few battle scenes break out, but they’re small and personal in scope, which isn’t bad at all. I think these smaller scale battles pack a nice punch, aside from the poor CGI involved. The movie has a lot of walking, landscape shots, and sense of travel however, with these elements given much more time than action related content. While the travel shots are beautiful and add a lot to the atmosphere of the movie, the pace was just too slow at times. I don’t mind a deliberate pace if there’s a reason, but here it seems more just to fill time than build toward some kind of payoff. I wasn’t bored so much as just curious why so much time was devoted to elements that don’t bolster the story that much. Yes, the views are gorgeous, but after a dozen or so shots, to be reminded every few minutes seems excessive. At the same time, the performances are solid, with Tom Holland showing surprising skill and Jon Bernthal in a role that requires him to be almost totally silent, which was interesting. Why more time wasn’t given to The Mute’s story seems odd, as it is the movie’s most interesting ingredient. So no, Pilgrimage isn’t the next historical epic classic, but it has some good points. If you don’t mind minimal action and a focus on location over narrative, give it a shot.
No nakedness. These monks take their vows seriously, so no wanton nudity or sexual activities. The blood side is more generous, though sadly some low end CGI dampens the fun on the bloodshed. One shot of a blade going right through a guy’s face sounds cool, but looks ridiculous and out of place. The blade looks like a colorforms sticker placed on the dude’s face, not ideal for dramatic impact. Not all the blood is on that level, most looks passable and a late film throat gouge is nice and splashy. I’ve read reviews that rave about how hyper violent and blood soaked the movie, but that simply isn’t the case. A few isolated instances of bloodshed, most of which is CGI, so don’t expect a tidal wave of crimson here. The dialogue is limited and serious in tone, so no outlandish moments or melodramatic exchanges. In truth, the lack of dialogue for Jon Bernthal’s character is the most interesting element of the movie. He speaks just one line and it is effective, to be sure. As far as craziness, this is a pretty serious, straight ahead movie that never veers into the outrageous or bizarre.
Overall Insanity: 0/10