"I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now 'til kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why." — Gabriel, Prophecy I

About Gabriel

The first three movies of The Prophecy series can be classified as horror/dark fantasy with plenty of black humor. They take their inspiration from the Old Testament, where angels act more like God's enforcers than as serene messengers. As one character states in the first movie: you really wouldn't want to meet one of these creatures.

In The Prophecy, the archangel Gabriel is a fascinating and entertaining take on this darker version of angels. By turns droll and manic, funny and scary, Gabriel crouches on chairs and rooftops like a gangly, black-clad bird of prey, sniffing air or licking objects to track his quarry. He may hate the "talking monkeys" that have usurped his rightful place in God's affection, but killing little girls or ripping babies from wombs isn't personal — it's just his job.

Or it is until, as a punishment for his transgressions and arrogance, he's turned into a human.

To a large extent, the trilogy chronicles Gabriel's fall from grace, the point where he finally hits rock bottom, and his last chance at redemption. It's a familiar story; one we've probably read or watched many times before. The trilogy isn't a cinematic masterpiece — there's holes a-plenty in the plot — but entertaining overall, and its greatest strength lies in the depths Christopher Walken brings to his role as Gabriel as well as the quirks the writer gave to the character.

Gabriel can force souls back into dying bodies, but he can't drive a car. He roasts adversaries without blinking, but scolds those who swear. He's equally fascinated and befuddled by technology. He deadpans terrible jokes and gets a little panicky when faced with tears. He's all for running over a woman but worries about running over a dog. More than anything, though, he's consumed with grief and anger that The Big Guy Upstairs no longer talks to him, and that's the motivating force behind his destructive behavior of the first two movies.

Even as a human, Gabriel maintains a quirky persona that's out of synch with everyone else because he retains all the awareness of his former angelic self. Even though he's lost some of those otherworldly perks — like being able to survive multiple gun shot wounds to the chest — he's learned to drive (sort of) and discovered the joys of sex (when he has the cash.)

As mentioned above, a large part of Gabriel's appeal is due to the actor who portrays him. There are few actors who can mix vulnerability and menace as effectively as Christopher Walken, or who can make you laugh one minute and scare the crap out of you the next. My love for Gabriel's character arc in these movies overcomes plot hiccups or iffy logic in the world-building. Walken's Gabriel is a joy to watch, whether he's cheerfully incinerating old friends or awkwardly comforting a dying woman; smacking around a pregnant woman with manic glee or silently shielding a terrified child from an angry mob; ripping out hearts with a sneer or making jokes about DMV workers with a mischevious twinkle in his eye.

About The Prophecy I - III

Released in 1995, The Prophecy I tells the story of the Archangel Gabriel (Christoper Walken) and his search for the most evil soul on Earth, which he believes will help him right a few heavenly wrongs that resulted from God placing humans (aka "talking monkeys") above the angels. The second war in Heaven has been ongoing for thousands of years and is now heating up once again. Caught in the middle of this angelic strife is a police detective (who failed at becoming a priest), a small-town school teacher, and a young girl who becomes an unwilling host to that most evil soul and, consequently, the target of Gabriel's relentless hunt. The plucky, if woefully out-gunned, human heroes quickly realize that an Angel of Death is pretty much unstoppable. Luckily for them, they get a bit of help from Lucifer (played with campy zeal by Viggo Mortensen), who's displeased at how Gabriel is upsetting the status quo and encroaching on Hell's turf. Gabriel's tough, but he's no match for the devil himself.

You can read more about The Prophecy I at Wikipedia and IMDB.

The Prophecy II was released direct-to-video in 1998. In this sequel, the angel good guys — led by the Archangel Michael (Eric Roberts) — have learned of a prophecy about a nephilim, the child of an angel and a human woman, who will end the second war in Heaven. Meanwhile, Lucifer decides that Gabriel, and his grudge against humans, is far too much trouble and kicks Gabriel out of Hell. Once back, Gabriel immediately returns to his bad ways and is determined to prevent the birth of the nephilim. The mother-to-be (Jennifer Beals) turns out to be more than a match for the vengeful angel when she challenges Gabriel by forcing him to, quite literally, take a leap of faith. The result sets Gabriel on a path to redemption, courtesy of Michael.

You can read more about The Prophecy II at Wikipedia and IMDB.

The Prophecy III: The Ascent was released in 2000, and concludes the original storyline. The plot follows the coming-of-age adventures of Danyael Rosales, the nephilim child from the second movie. With Gabriel now human and out of the running as the bad guy, other resentful angels have stepped into the power vacuum and upped the ante in war on Heaven. Pyriel, the Angel of Genocide, intends to obliterate all humans, push a celestial reset button, and place himself in the role of God. Helping Pyriel in his quest for mass murder and godhood is the angel Zophael, who is sent to kill Danyael. Danyael gets shot to death, gets resurrected with new abilities and a crazy craving for donuts, fights a lot with Zophael, and has several run-ins with a cryptic Gabriel, who nudges the kid toward fulfilling his destiny. It turns out that Gabriel has been acting as Danyael's guardian for years. Danyael of course saves humanity and Gabriel, who has learned compassion for humans after being forced to live as one, reclaims his place as an angel and ascends to Heaven.

You can read more about The Prophecy III at Wikipedia and IMDB.

There were two additional Prophecy movies, but they don't feature Gabriel -- and I have't seen them, so I can't say how they compare to the first three movies.

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