RISEN (2016) - Review
by Bryan Mero
Let's be honest. Most "Christian" movies of the past have been pretty corny. The message of the movie gets tied up in a pretty bow for you to consume or to be forced down your throat. I would know, I've seen a lot of them. I've been attending church for most of my life. As a Christian who loves Hollywood movies it's sometimes a struggle between separating what I believe to what values movies portray and how to review them accordingly. This all to say, I'm trying to be fair in all my reviews and do my best not to be influenced by the subject matter.
RISEN is about a Roman Tribune stationed in Jerusalem. He is in charge of keeping the general peace in the area. On his return from a skirmish he is told to make sure a certain man is killed. He is already being crucified but just to make sure the deed is done and the uprising by the Israelites are finally settled. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is then assigned to making sure the dead body isn't stolen in the night. When the guards leave their post and tell a story of being ambushed, Clavius starts his investigation for the truth.
Most movies about Jesus ends at the crucifixion. This is really where the movie begins and takes us with Clavius to find answers. During the journey we join Lucius (Tom Felton) as Clavius' new assistant who is trying to learn and move up the ranks. Together they find some incredible stories from eye witnesses and things they see themselves. Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) wants this to all just go away as he literally washes his hands of all the death and uncertainty with the Emperor of Rome coming to visit.
The action and dialogue feel 'real' in this movie. There's nothing here that made me cringe or feel beaten over the head. Joseph Fiennes was amazing as the outsider looking in. His transformation throughout the movie is believable and honest. The disciples and Jesus (Cliff Curtis) was also very genuine. The backdrop of Jerusalem was beautiful. The story was fluid and easy to follow. You can tell this movie was done by well seasoned professionals.
Overall, this was an intense detective story. We follow Clavius trying to find the truth and when it is discovered, the revelation of it all is overwhelming. For those who have read the Gospels, it is sometimes easy to gloss over the crucifixion. RISEN gives a visual to what it was like to be there. RISEN does not pull any punches. It does not apologize for telling this story. I admire that and it makes it all that more satisfying in the end. Hollywood has realized that 'Christian' movies can make money. If they keep making quality stories like RISEN, I can't wait for more. This is a far cry from movies like NOAH (2014). This is based on the New Testament Gospels and sticks to it. There are many more stories to be told from the most popular book in history. I look forward to seeing more. As for now, go see RISEN and support this movie so more can be made in the future.