In the spirit of a Martin McDonagh movie (Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges), Say Your Prayers is a darkly comic crime drama about two Christian hitmen trying to assassinate an atheist lecturer. It’s a well-acted, engaging, and original story, and at only 84 minutes, it’ll leave you wanting more.
The film’s greatest asset by a mile is Harry Melling, who has gone on to make a name for himself post-Harry Potter. He’s phenomenal as Tim, the naive, kind-hearted assassin who struggles to reconcile his faith, his mission, and his sense of decency. His target, Professor Huxley, is played brilliantly by Roger Allam as a sardonic, patronizing stand-in for the ‘militant atheist’ (think Richard Dawkins).
The rest of the cast is just as committed – notably Derek Jacobi as the abusive Father Enoch, who makes your skin crawl every time he’s on screen. But it’s the dynamic between Tim and Professor Huxley that anchors the film: the struggle between old-world dogma and new-world ‘progress’, which are both dangerous and blind in their own ways.
One last thing: there’s a literal chorus of old men providing the soundtrack. I’ll give the director a lot of credit here – it would’ve been easy to use this as an absurdist gimmick, or a meta-joke, but the concept is played completely straight. Which is incredibly effective, particularly during the heart-pounding finale. The rest of the film is solid on its own, but the choir unironically makes it worth recommending.