We've always known vampires are hot, but who knew they were so helpful? From True Blood to Twilight to The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice, the third film in TNT's boys-with-thick-glasses adventure franchise, the undead just keep coming to the rescue of the living.
Because Chalice, is a boy's adventure and not a girl's romance, the primary vampire is not the usual brooding male; Simone Renoir (Stana Katic) is a toothsome New Orleans nightclub singer with a predilection for push-up bras. She's also the latest love interest-bodyguard for Flynn Carsen, the titular Librarian, who in this installment must find the Judas chalice made from Judas's 30 pieces of silver and thereby prevent the resurrection of a much nastier bloodsucker with dreams of world domination.
Chalice, like its well-rated predecessors, comes from the Dean Devlin production factory, where action and insouciance are favored over angst and introspection. (Mr. Devlin, best known for Independence Day, also has a new series, Leverage, making its debut on TNT.)
This time around, though, Flynn - still winningly played by Noah Wyle - is suffering from mission fatigue. Looking around his home base, the secret stacks of the Metropolitan Public Library, he counts off the moments he's missed while gathering artifacts and saving the world: Blackbeard's chest, my mom's 65th birthday. Da Vinci's diary, my 10-year college reunion.
Thankfully, the cloud quickly lifts - helped along by the arrival of Ms. Katic - and Chalice gets on with its own mission of being a low-rent, lighthearted cousin of the Indiana Jones and Mummy films. Mr. Wyle, the poor man's David Duchovny, shares Mr. Duchovny's willingness to poke fun at himself and his bland good looks.
You're very convincing as a hapless loser, Simone tells Flynn, and she's right.
The Librarian movies, with their hero who's charmingly clueless despite his 22 college degrees, belong to a British tradition of derring-do mixed with domestic comedy; Chalice'' nods to it with an opening sequence that parodies James Bond right down to the theme music. Flynn has his own M. and Q., the library directors Judson and Charlene, played by Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin, and their bureaucratic repartee provides counterpoint to the action.
Just think of yourself as a celibate monk, Judson tells a downcast, recently dumped Flynn.
We do! Charlene chimes in, through Ms. Curtin's familiar manic grin.
The action itself is pedestrian, but as with the previous Librarian adventures, there's just enough wit around the edges to keep you watching. You're not going to think yourself out of this one, book boy, a villain exclaims to Flynn, and the viewer is encouraged not to think too hard either.