Our politicians are liars and crooks; our churches are rife with hypocrisy; and the environment is being irreparably destroyed by greedy, soulless businessman. That’s the provocative assessment of the good ol’ USA by Paul Schrader in his pointed damning of our laissez faire society in “First Reformed,” a film that holds up a mirror on the Trump era and reflects a hideous monster staring back. It’s frightening, depressing and just a wee bit unnerving, largely because a lot of what the movie has to say about these troubled times is right on the money — with “money” being the operative word.

It’s that type of green that’s winning out more and more over the green of the environment. It’s destroying our planet, one coal-plant belch at a time. And Trump and his corrupt cronies (I’m looking at you, Scott Pruitt) only facilitate that pillage of our land, sea and air by kowtowing to the oil barons of the world and then retreating to their alleged allegiances to God amid courting porn stars, promoting racism and cuddling up with evil dictators. With “First Reformed,” Schrader is sending a powerful wake-up call to us all who’ve chosen to look the other way. It’s very much a companion piece to “Taxi Driver,” his masterful satire of the corruption and immorality blighting the streets of his beloved New York City in the 1970s.

We even get what can be described as a second cousin to Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle in the form of Ethan Hawke’s disillusioned Reverend Toller. He’s a former Army chaplain now overseeing a very small flock in his historical First Reformed Church in Upstate New York. He’s already lost his son to the war in Iraq and the boy’s mother to his alcohol-fueled anger. Also like Travis, the reverend is deeply unstable, one wrong push away from going postal. And that fateful shove may have just been delivered via a pretty, young parishioner. Her name is Mary (how’s that for symbolism?) and as played by Amanda Seyfried she’s a loving saint of a woman.

She comes to Rev. Toller after his latest sermon begging for help in talking her environmentalist husband (Philip Ettinger) off the ledge of a suicidal depression. Having just been released from prison, Ettinger’s Michael sees no point going on. He also wants the recently impregnated Mary to abort their baby because he thinks it unfair to bring a child into a world rapidly succumbing to unchecked global warming. The reverend meets with Michael. But instead of the pastor bringing comfort, the parishioner brings even more hopelessness and despair to the preacher. The proverbial time bomb begins to tick.

Hawke masterfully places us inside the head of a man with a disintegrating soul, as he gradually loses a long-running battle with his demons. You can see it in his face, in his gait and in his posture. The reverend is a defeated man, and like the long broken organ in his church, the cost might be too high to get him fixed. So he goes it alone, a purveyor of life on the verge of death. He tries drowning it in booze, but it only makes the pain worse, as he wrestles with a possible diagnosis of cancer, no doubt brought on by our carcinogen-filled environment. He wants to strike back, but how. The answer comes to him, and when it does, Hawke plays on our deepest sympathies, even if we don’t approve of what he’s about to do in the name of God.

That brings us to the film’s most haunting query: “Will God forgive us?” Toller asks this question of his church’s richest patron, an oil company titan (think the Koch brothers) who claims to love God, but does everything to spite him by polluting the air and water. The prig takes offense, and Toller ponders doing a little smiting of his own. The result is some nail-biting tension, as the reverend battles his conscience and his growing affection for Seyfried’s gentle lamb, Mary.

The final minutes are riveting, but Schrader isn’t about to let us off with a neat and tidy ending. In fact, it’s so “Sopranos”-like open-ended, it’s sure to anger some ticket-buyers. But Schrader would much rather you spew your ire toward the devils and demons among the rich and powerful who do nothing but take and take, never giving anything back to the earth that’s been so bountiful. The film raises dozens of intriguing questions about where we’re going and the long-term effects on the people we claim to love most — our children.

Even more, it exposes the fallacies of religion. If you don’t love the Earth as much as God, are you truly a Christian? Schrader, who is both the film’s writer and director, takes an even tougher stance against clergymen like Toller’s boss, Pastor Jeffers (a dig at alleged homophobe Robert Rev. Jeffress?). He’s played terrifically by Cedric “the Entertainer” Kyles, and he’s the proverbial devil in sheep’s clothing. He has the big church, the big congregation and the giant bankroll courtesy of oily oil baron Edward Balq (Michael Gaston), the kind of narcissistic — but dangerous — clown you love to hiss.

You can’t accuse Schrader of giving either Jeffers or Balq a break, which is a one-sidedness that you wish he’d avoided. But Schrader has always been a writer more concerned with examining characters instead of issues. And in Hawke’s Toller, he’s created a protagonist for the ages, full of love and equally full of fury. How the reverend opts to direct those two traits is what “First Reformed” all comes down to in the end. Is he a man of vengeance, or a man of mercy? The answer, like a lot of “First Reformed” just might surprise you. And for that, Schrader deserves a most pious amen.

“First Reformed”

Cast includes Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Van Hansis, Victoria Hill and Michael Gaston.

(R for some disturbing violent images.)

Grade: A-