Risen (also known as Resurrection) is the latest entry in what might be called a cinematic renaissance of the faith-based genre. The film is directed by Kevin Reynolds and stars Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Tom Felton (Harry Potter films), Peter Firth (Pearl Harbor) and Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead).
The movie brings to the screen the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton), 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.
Disclaimer: I have never really been a fan of faith-based cinema, despite being very religious myself.
Joseph Feines is one of the greater actors of our time and is horribly underused, as Risen most certainly proves. His performance is pitch perfect and really carries the movie. While the rest of the acting is good in the film, Feines brings a gravitas and believability to the story. If he hadn’t been in the film, I firmly believe that it would have been a disaster of…dare I say…BIBLICAL proportions.
For the most part, the film restrained its sentimentality. Faith-based epics tend to wear their schmaltziness on their sleeves, which tends to dull the message that it is trying to convey. Risen handles itself pretty well in this regard, with a few exceptions. But again, Feines is the glue holding this restraint together.
THE NOT SO GOOD
The movie felt very small in scope. The costumes were pretty terrible at times, and the sets looked both cheap and new at the same time.
The film’s attempt at humor falls a bit flat, or at the very least it feels very out of place. It’s understandable why the writers wanted to inject the humor, but some of it is distasteful.
The movie is REALLY violent. Somewhere along the line the filmmakers decided they wanted this to be like Game of Thrones or something, because there is a lot of unnecessary gruesome imagery. It detracts from the film much more than it helps it.
The fellow that plays the resurrected Lord didn’t really rise to the occasion. The hardest role for any actor to fill is that of Jesus of Nazareth in ANY production involving the time period, so I have sympathy for the filmmakers’ plight in casting him.
Although Joseph Feines is brilliant in it, Risen never really rises above the rest of the crowd of faith-based cinema. 3/5 stars.