Not since Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty bombed in the disastrous “Ishtar” has an actress made such a boneheaded choice as two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank in “The Reaping.” The film’s tagline is “What Has God Wrought.” Maybe that should be replaced with “What in the Hell is She Doing in This Picture.”
As biblical cautionary tales goes, “The Reaping” is standard fare. A former Christian missionary, Katherine (Swank), who specializes in debunking religious phenomena, investigates a small town which seems to be suffering from the 10 biblical plagues. At the film’s onset she and her assistant, Ben (Idris Elba) are investigating another “supposed” miracle in an unnamed South American country. She wanders into harm’s way to conclude that it was an evil corporation’s toxic spill that deceived the people (much in the same way the studio pollute theatres nationwide with these types of films).
Apparently, through multiple flashbacks, we discover that Katherine’s has lost her faith after the death of her husband and daughter in the Sudan. But her faith is put to the test when she is summoned to a small Louisiana town called Haven. Apparently, the river is overflowing with blood, frogs are falling from the sky and livestock are suddenly dying. The townsfolk seemed to believe that an outcast family, and specifically their 12-year old child Loren (AnnaSophia Robb), are responsible.
A priest, Father Costigan (Steven Rhea), has called to warn Katherine after several pictures of her in his possession inexplicably caught on fire – only burning away her face. He explains that she has to destroy the girl before all 10 plagues strike the town. Anyone who has watched enough biblical thrillers, “The Omen,” “The Prophecy,” “Stigmata,” etc. can see the outcome a mile away.
In “Hustle and Flow,” DJay (Terrence Howard) tells Nola (Taryn Manning) to put her hands on the wheel and proudly say, “We in control.” Well Swank lost control of this film and her credibility to grab the big paycheck and the end result is a story that spiraled out of control. The bible says “you will reap what you sow,” but audiences who put down money to see this horrible disjointed film will be foolish. Swank has now discovered Hollywood’s little secret that artsy films win you awards, but bad movies get you paid.