PG-13 | 1h 47min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters February 19th 2016**
Synopsis: Follows the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius, a powerful Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius, are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.
Review: "Faith based film" is an industry term that has almost become its own movie genre. Anything dealing with or aimed at a Christian audience normally gets lumped into this category. If truth be told they seldom rise to anything more than a puff piece with unrealistic characters and a mediocre scrip full of motivational catchphrases. In other words you know what you are getting when you go in. So to place that stamp on RISEN would be an injustice.This was fresh, unique, and compelling storytelling.
Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is a Roman military leader on the fast track to the senate. He is Pilate's right hand man and the guy who is called on for the tough jobs. He oversees crucifixions and leads the fight against the zealots and trouble makers. At the same time he is honest, intelligent, and forthright. He is not easily swayed nor is he rash. There is an undertone of justice in what he does. You may not like him but you can't help but respect him. So when the body of Christ is "gone" Clavius is called upon to solve the mystery around it. This puts him on a journey that will shake his foundations to the core.
The script, acting, and direction in this one were all solidly on point. The writers Kevin Reynolds (who also directed) and Paul Aiello took powerful biblical moments and looked at them as if from an outsiders perspective. Clavius is seeing all of this with no idea who Jesus is or what his followers have been saying. The more he uncovers the harder it is to process in his mind. Seeing it unfold as he does made the story of Christ even more personable and relevant.
Though the film has a lot to offer those in and out of the church circles, many who grew up knowing the biblical text will take even more from it. The writers do not try and over explain each event but let it organically take place. You can enjoy watching THE AVENGERS having never read a comic book. But those who know the Marvel universe inside and out obviously "get it" more. The same here. There are subtle moments that mean a lot to those who have studied the bible but do not distract from those who have never read a word. This too gives the film credibility and makes it more than just another puffy cloud movie.
Fiennes is a perfect choice as the Roman military man. There is a calm in his tenacity. He thinks that these followers of Jesus are deranged kooks yet he treats them with respect. Fiennes captures both attributes of authority and responsibility to the job at hand. He may not understand the events just yet but he does not underestimate them either. Cliff Curtis is remarkable in the role of Yeshua. The moments with him and the disciples are touching and sole stirring. Curtis is able to convey with his eyes what we would expect a messenger of peace and hope would.
RISEN is rated PG-13 for Biblical violence so there is a lot of smoting that happens early on including some disturbing images of the crucifixion. The imagery and deep conversations might be a little much for those under 13. But the story is certainly powerful and touching for all. I give it 4.5 out of 5 Roman Bathes. A fresh film that finally captures the gospel of Christ in relevant form.