Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a Roman Military Tribune, and his aide, Lucius (Tom Felton), are given the task of finding the body of Yeshua (Cliff Curtis) as despite being crucified, thrust with a spear, placed in a sealed tomb with 24 hour guards, the body has some how gone. After failing to find the body of Yeshua by digging up recent graves, Clavius then sets his sights on the men and women who were followers of Yeshua, believing they conspired to steal the body to fulfil prophecy surrounding a risen Messiah. But as he interviews and tracks these men and women down not only does he find himself dealing with the sort of unshakeable faith where people will die for what they believe but he finds himself witness to something he can not believe.
When ever it comes to bible based movies I always wonder whether the auto-response negativity from those who disdain anything religious is balanced by the enthusiasm of those who long to see more bible based, Christian movies making it to the big screen. What that means is that a movie like “Risen” can have reviews which range from utter disdain and claims of mind washing nonsense to others proclaiming it to be an amazing modern biblical epic. I will tell you now that for me “Risen” was a well crafted movie which was on the right side of being average.
Now “Risen” is quite interesting because for the most it feels like the fictitious character of Clavius is simply a mechanism to dramatise the events of the crucifixion and the following days after Jesus’ resurrection. So we get to see that whilst those either side of Jesus having their legs broken as they were crucified Jesus did not suffer broken bones which fulfilled a prophecy from the Old Testament. We also see the appearance of Jesus to his disciples in an upper room as well as at the sea of Galilee where the disciples having had no luck fishing whilst waiting for Jesus but get an instruction from the shore line and suddenly their catch is so bountiful they can’t pull it into their boat. And all of this is nicely done, avoiding some of the events which followed the resurrection due to I imagine budget restrictions but still getting across some basic elements including how if the disciples were perpetrating a ruse when it came to the resurrection none of them would have willingly died for something they knew not to be true.
But the character of Clavius ends up more than just a mechanism for telling the story in “Risen” and we get to witness his own growing beliefs as he goes from a man who believes in his own pagan God to one who through those he encounters and what he witnesses finds himself believing in Christ. And this works well because I have witnessed many Christians who come to believe following an emotional sermon and some powerful music yet here we get to see the slow progression of a man who finds himself confronted by the facts which leave him with no other option to believe in Jesus the Messiah.
What this means is that whilst “Risen” has some well known actors, a famous director as well as some action scene the drive of the movie is not to entertain with big performances or action but to bring to life the story of the resurrection and lead the audience on a journey of one man’s conversion. For some that might sound horrific whilst those in the church pews are probably clapping in approval yet this is a movie which with out being preachy, with out being pious manages to tell the story and explore faith in a way which should work for those who are not believers but have not dismissed Christianity completely.
To sum up; “Risen” was in truth better than I had expected and found it easy to watch, easy to follow and also easy to understand. Of course as a Christian and aware of the story of the resurrection it may have spoken to me differently than to others but I believe there is a non-Christian audience who would find this interesting and maybe a first step on a quest for understanding and faith.
Cast: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis, María Botto, Luis Callejo, Antonio Gil, Richard Atwill, Stewart Scudamore, Andy Gathergood, Stephen Hagan, Mish Boyko, Jan Cornet, Joe Manjón, Pepe Lorente
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Length: 107 mins
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
You can buy Risen from Amazon by clicking here