Initially a one-note joke — bookish librarian becomes reluctant action hero — this third and apparently final installment of TNT’s “The Librarian” movies benefits from nifty special effects and a wholehearted embrace of its modern-day “National Treasure”-type swashbuckler status. Noah Wyle has settled into the title role as what amounts to an heir to “MacGyver,” using his brains to confound the bad guys’ brawn. There’s probably not much mileage left in this concept, but “Curse of the Judas Chalice” milks it for all it’s worth. Think of it as “Indiana Jones and the TV Movie Budget.”
For those who didn’t check out (heh heh) the preceding chapters, Flynn Carsen (Wyle) is a brilliant student who takes a job at the Metropolitan Library — where his eccentric bosses, Charlene (Jane Curtin) and Judson (Bob Newhart), introduce him to a treasure trove of magical and mythical artifacts he must protect or retrieve.
This latest adventure, written by Marco Schnabel and breezily directed by Jonathan Frakes, offers an especially toothy pursuit: the Judas chalice, a MacGuffin with the power to revive the undead — in this case, the long-lost remains of Count Dracula.
Flynn finds himself vying with Russian thugs who are also chasing after the chalice, and aligned with a mysterious chanteuse (Stana Katic) down in New Orleans, which receives an extended and conspicuous tourism plug in exchange for its participation. He also encounters a professor (Bruce Davison) whose knowledge of vampire folklore exceeds his own.
The plot is a trifle chaotic, but the action culminates in an impressive sequence of special-effects derring-do and whooshing bloodsuckers. Wyle’s character, meanwhile, has advanced from Walter Mitty to more of a nerdy James Bond — albeit with troubles hanging on to women, after his previous squeeze protests that she can’t endure “the wild and unpredictable lifestyle of dating a librarian.” Newhart’s blase approach to all this mayhem is also a small treat.
These pics certainly fit the popcorn profile TNT has cultivated — and perhaps more significantly, should provide a solid ratings springboard to the channel’s launch of its latest drama, “Leverage.” Bottom line is, if this truly closes the book on “The Librarian,” it’s a pretty good place to do so.