Messiah: The Promise (TV Mini-Series 2004– ) Poster

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More deaths, more mystery, less gore...
Libretio31 January 2005

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Sound format: Stereo

Following a horrific prison riot, injured inmates are taken to a local hospital where they're stalked by a merciless serial killer.

Third in a series of BBC/Paramount co-productions which began in 2001 with MESSIAH, an adaptation of the novel by Boris Starling which introduced the character of Red Metcalfe (played on-screen by intense Scottish actor Ken Stott), a battle-scarred police detective who specializes in major crimes. This complex opener weaved themes of betrayal and redemption into a genuinely frightening scenario in which a psychopath uses religious iconography as motive for a series of appalling murders (no kidding - this one gives SE7EN a run for it's money!). MESSIAH 2: VENGEANCE IS MINE (2002) uses much the same template but is less sure-footed in narrative terms, with an especially poor climactic 'reveal', and a motive which renders the killings both excessive and pointless.

Like the first sequel, "The Promise" ups the number of victims whilst downplaying the gore (big mistake), but Lizzie Mickery's elaborate script focuses attention on one of Stott's colleagues (Frances Grey), an experienced detective plagued by nightmares of a childhood trauma which may - or may not - be connected to the current wave of atrocities. Seasoned mystery addicts will guess the killer's identity fairly quickly, but few will predict the ironic twist which closes proceedings on a note of quiet tragedy. As with previous entries in this ambitious series, the movie combines police proceduralism with scenes of Gothic horror (the fate of the character played by IL CARTAIO's Liam Cunningham is especially shocking), while Stott and his team strive to unravel a series of increasingly bizarre clues, some of which begin to point uncomfortably close to home. Though not even half as good as the original MESSIAH, this third entry is a powerful thriller in its own right, with a strong ensemble cast and impeccable technical credits. Directed by David Drury (HOSTILE WATERS), and followed by MESSIAH: THE HARROWING (2005).
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Perhaps the weakest during Stott's tenure, but still excellent.
Sleepin_Dragon1 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Of the four plus one instalments of Messiah, I'd perhaps consider The Promise the weakest of the Four (I am not counting the fifth.) That said it is still an excellent piece of drama. It boasts a fantastic storyline, a fabulous set of characters, and some truly memorable scenes. Will I ever be able to forget that moment with the MRI machine? I think not. Those gory scenes were very prominent in many dramas from the early 2000's, when you remember Wire in the Blood, Waking the Dead etc, it seemed like each wanting to push the boundaries and show more, this trend seems to have eased somewhat these days.

Captivating performance from lead Ken Stott as always, his scenes with the beautiful Michelle Forbes always intense and engrossing. As big a star as Tom Ellis is today, I still see this as one of his best ever performances, he is superb throughout. Perhaps one or two of the other characters lacked a little bit of depth, but that's being picky.

A thrilling ending, you're kept guessing until the very last minutes, so much to keep you engaged.

Very, very good, definitely gory.
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Pretty Good
JesusZoidberg17 September 2004
On the whole, this was very good. Maybe not as good as the first story, but definitely better than most recent dramas. The acting was superb as usual by Ken Stott, and Neil Dudgeon excels as Duncan. No sign of Art Malik in this one, and not a lot of Michele Forbes as Red's wife Susan. Frances Grey had something to get her teeth into this time though, and did a good job, too.

The actual story was slightly familiar, gloomy hospital wards with flickering lights have been done many times before. The murders were quite inventive and well done, hope they haven't run out of ideas for the next one! There must be a Messiah 4! I'd rate it 8 out of 10.
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Pretty Darn Good, But Not The Best In The Series
thecritchster1 September 2004
Since I saw the first Messiah on television a few years ago, I realized how far drama had come in England, whereas America has its slasher films and serial killers a plenty, over here in the UK we have very few 'serial' psychos who stick in our mind. Messiah is one. The first combined great story, nail biting tension, credible acting, scary build ups and gruesome deaths. It all combined to make a really good TV watching experience. It followed Red Metcalfe (The fantastic Ken Stott) and his team (Neil Dudgeon, Frances Grey, Jamie Draven) on the trail of a killer who seemed to be killing the twelve apostles, each dying the way they did in the Bible. His team were stretched to their limits as more and more men dropped dead...and Red realized the killer was closer than he realized... Messiah returned in Messiah 2: Vengeance Is Mine, which had the same good storytelling ability, great acting, spot on tension and of course...blood all over the place. Red returned, as did Duncan and Kate, to face another killer who seemed ever more demented and sadistic than the first. Messiah 3: The Promise, however, expanded the Messiah formula as literally anyone could drop dead within seconds, set inside a rather scary looking hospital and under the observation of Red and his team, patients of a prison begin dropping dead, including Red's old nemesis (Liam Cunningham) as Red struggles to understand what links the victims Kate's nightmares and flashes of her former life begin to unravel why, and by who, people are being mercilessly slaughtered... A great series, recommended to anyone who likes their drama full bodied and with bucket loads of guts. Be prepared to be baffled and terrified as you try to figure just whodunit this time...
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Not as good as the previous two series, still well worth a watch
TheLittleSongbird6 June 2016
The first two 'Messiah' series are wonderful and very nearly blameless. 'Messiah III: The Promise' is not up to the high standard set previously, but it is still a good series and definitely a worthy view.

Where "The Promise" particularly falls down is the final solution. For this reviewer it felt rushed, the killer was the most obvious of all five series of 'Messiah' whose identity was guessable too early (like the end of the first part) and despite saying before about not completely buying the motive of the killer in the first series the motive for the killer here managed to be even more far-fetched and not explored enough.

Although slightly darker than the previous two series, the tone in "The Promise" feels too different. The first two series were much grittier and more disturbing, and the downplaying of the gore here could be part of why. While admirably expanding on the previously quite limited character of Kate, and the series does a great job doing so, but it does mean that more interesting characters are too much in the background. For instance, Red is the main character but is criminally underused, feeling more like a supporting character in his own show.

On the other hand, "The Promise" is beautifully and atmospherically made, with stylish and suitably moody photography. The music has an ominous quality to it without being obvious or intrusive. The direction evokes a great atmosphere and ensures that "The Promise" never rushes or plods.

The writing is taut, tightly structured, appropriately dark and intelligent. It always flows naturally, nothing feels out of place or in bad taste and the mystery is kept alive and compelling. The story is mostly absorbing, with a good deal happening but taking care not to rush through it, instead taking its time, otherwise it would have been confusing. The story of Kate's trauma/nightmares/flashbacks are strikingly filmed, creepy and somewhat affecting, personally didn't find them tedious. Likewise the murders while not as gory or as imaginative as those in the first two series, though with a higher body count, are still inventive and harrowing.

No complaints can be made about the acting, which is uniformly good. Ken Stott is exceptional and has a riveting intensity about him, Neil Dudgeon continues to excel with 'Messiah' demonstrating some career-best work and Frances Grey does wonders with meatier material to usual.

In conclusion, worth a watch but the first two series are superior. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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Darkest, yet most disappointing in the trilogy..........
Huge_ass_ic_Park3 September 2004
I loved the first Messiah and was in awe throughout the first and second part. I watched the repeat and still the ending has the ability to surprise. Messiah II, I thought was better (despite many people disliking the conclusion and revelation of who the bad-guy was).

Messiah III: The Promise - I'm not sure what to make of it. I liked the idea and the death scenes very much. However, I was disappointed by the unmasking of the bad-guy. I had guessed the identity and the motive in the first part, which is unusual as I like to be surprised. So with that sorted, I was just watching death scene after death scene knowing who was behind it.

The writer, Lizzie Mickery, was not at fault as she created a good feature. But, there were many darker turns this could have taken.

I still long for them to make Messiah IV. I wish they would hire me to write it, as I would take it down a really unexpected and even darker path...........
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