@dbaileyauthor Welcome to faith-based movie reviews. For believers, by a believer. Here you’ll find unbiased evaluations of current and past motion pictures with a spiritual component—all presented from a Christian worldview. Movies are evaluated both for entertainment value and Christian-friendliness. First up, Sony Pictures Risen.
The story opens with the crucifixion, attended by Roman tribune Clavius, played by Joseph Fiennes, an obedient commander in the service of Pontius Pilate. Following the Resurrection, and under pressure from Jewish leaders and a pending visit from Caesar, Pilate orders Clavius to find the body of the risen Lord. What follows is a systematic and sometimes gruesome (several bodies are unearthed) search for the remains. When this fails, Clavius resorts to a series of interrogations of famous Gospel stalwarts to locate the eleven remaining apostles before experiencing a revelation that challenges his beliefs. From here, the film shifts into a higher gear when Clavius joins the disciples in fleeing Jerusalem—and an incensed Pilate—across the desert to the Sea of Galliee to meet his destiny.
Besides Fiennes stellar execution, the film is ripe with solid performances from its supporting cast. Peter Firth plays a convincingly tough, yet paranoid Pontius Pilate; Tom Felton, as Lucius, is the perfect fawning sycophant to his mentor Clavius; and Maria Botto, though she enjoys very little screen time, brings beauty and grace to the character of Mary Magdalene.
Of particular note is director Kevin Reynolds’ handling of the character of Jesus. Exquisitely underplayed by Chris Curtis, it’s a complete reversal from his chilling portrayal of Hispanic gang lord Smiley in 2001’s Training Day. His performance as Yeshua is quiet, yet strong and engaging. It’s reminiscent of the sparse on-screen presentation of the Christ figure in Ben Hur. Director Reynolds keeps the focus on Clavius, which is where it should be. This movie is about the transformation of his character more than the Resurrection itself.
My wife and I truly enjoyed this movie, which was just as moving, if not as brutal, as the last great Jesus film, The Passion of the Christ. If you’re looking for an inspiring way to spend an hour and forty-seven minutes, Risen is the perfect film for Easter.
For the movie’s solid fictional storyline, four out of five projectors. For its fidelity to the Gospel, five fish for Christian friendliness.