What You Need To Know:
A PROPHET has echoes of LITTLE CAESAR and THE GODFATHER. Though there are slightly positive references to Islam, the Islam in A PROPHET is like the Roman Catholicism of THE GODFATHER – of little or no consequence. The evil, criminal activities corrupt whatever religion any of the characters have. Regrettably, the ending to A PROPHET lacks the moral substance of the ironic endings of the first two GODFATHER movies. It also contains very strong bloody violence, abundant foul language, strong sexual content, nudity, and very strong drug references, so it is not worth watching.
(HH, PaPaPa, FRFR, Ho, B, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, AA, DDD, MMM) Strong humanist worldview matter-of-factly shows Corsican gangsters in prison pitted against Arab convicts, focusing on one young Arab protagonist, who eventually becomes a powerful gangster in his own right, plus some overt, positive references to Islam and Muslims, though criminal activity corrupts the Muslims almost as much as it corrupts the Catholic Corsicans and their other unseen rivals, some Italian gangsters, so humanism ultimately seems to be the movie’s primary outlook, plus brief homosexual references but not a major part of the movie and some moral inklings but no solid foundation for them; about 57 obscenities and one strong profanity; two brief scenes of very strong bloody violence include man slits another man’s throat with a razor blade in a struggle and a bloody assassination with a shootout is carried out against several gangsters, plus scenes of beatings and fighting; two depicted sex scenes in pornographic video and during a “conjugal” visit in jail, plus a homosexual proposition and man is forced to pretend to want a homosexual liaison in exchange for drugs but it’s a plot to assassinate the other man; shots of upper and rear female nudity, upper and rear male nudity, and somewhat obscured shots of genital male nudity (nothing really graphic shown); alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking, use of hashish, use of heroin in one scene, and, men transport hash outside of prison to sell it; and, betrayal, revenge, racism, bigotry, gangster activity, kidnapping, bribery of public officials, gang rivalry, religion corrupted.
A PROPHET is a gritty French gangster movie about a young illiterate Arab man who gets a six-year sentence for petty crime. In the prison, Cesar, the leading Corsican mobster who has bribed most of the guards, forces Malik to murder another Arab gangster who’s causing Cesar problems. Unless Malik performs this deed, Cesare will have Malik killed.
Malik barely succeeds in getting away with the brutal murder. From that moment, the Corsicans use Malik to do all sorts of menial tasks, including spying on the Arabs and Muslims in the prison.
At first, Malik is a fumbling peon, but, as he learns the ropes, he begins to do very well under the tutelage of Cesar. In fact, he helps Cesar form a criminal alliance of sorts with the Arab and Muslim convicts.
Eventually, Cesar gets an occasional day’s leave for Malik, so Malik can act as a courier outside for him. At the same time, Malik starts to work his own illegal drug ring under a gypsy convict in the prison and with Malik’s married, paroled friend, Ryad, on the outside. When Cesar hears about the drug ring, which endangers Cesar’s own criminal activities, he beats Malik and threatens to tear out one of his eyes.
Then, however, word comes that one of Cesar’s men on the outside is spying for his Italian rivals. He orders Malik and Ryad to kill the apparent mole, but Malik finally sees a way to get out from under Cesar’s cruel thumb.
A PROPHET has echoes of LITTLE CAESAR and the first two GODFATHER movies, with the Arab protagonist standing in for Edward G. Robinson’s Rico Bandelo and Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone. The ending, however, is more along the lines of the GODFATHER movies where Michael kills and defeats all his enemies, than LITTLE CAESAR, where the gangster gets his just desserts and is killed.
Though there are some slightly positive references to Islam, the Islam in A PROPHET is like the Roman Catholicism of THE GODFATHER – of little or no consequence to the protagonist. Thus, the point of A PROPHET is not to promote Islam but to point out that Malik, Cesar, and the other gangsters are each part of their own ethnic group, with the goal to survive and even become the top dog of all the dogs. In that sense, the Arabs and Muslims are just as bad as the Catholic Corsicans and Italians, who are never seen. Thus, the criminal activity corrupts everyone’s religion in this story. Even so, some confused viewers may come away with a positive view of Islam and a negative view of Catholicism.
Regrettably, the ending to A PROPHET lacks the strong moral substance of the slightly ironic endings of the first two GODFATHER movies. Unlike those movies, it leaves the some or much of the moral condemnation up to the individual viewer. Thus, A PROPHET ultimately is a lesser work, though still fascinating, if a bit long (especially in the middle). The lack of a really powerful, clever moral condemnation is a barrier to learning anything from this movie’s depiction of the evils of crime, but not an impossible barrier.
The movie’s other problems include some very strong bloody violence, abundant foul language, strong sexual content with nudity, and very strong drug references. Thus, A PROPHET is not worth watching.