Risen

Out march 18 / Cert. 12a / 107 mins.

Empire (UK) - - IN CINEMAS - Jonathan pile

Di­rec­tor Kevin reynolds cast Joseph Fi­ennes, tom Fel­ton, Peter Firth, Cliff Cur­tis

Plot Jerusalem, AD 33. Easter (although no-one knows that yet). When the body of Yeshua (Cur­tis) goes miss­ing, Clav­ius (Fi­ennes) must find it be­fore it’s claimed he’s been res­ur­rected.

Bib­li­cal films are sur­pris­ingly big busi­ness. and they don’t nec­es­sar­ily need mel Gib­son to suc­ceed — 2014’s Heaven Is For Real made $91 mil­lion in the Us on a $12 mil­lion bud­get. if you haven’t heard of it, it’s be­cause not all of them are re­leased in the UK.

And so to Risen, a New Tes­ta­mentera mys­tery from the man who di­rected Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Water­world — an in­trigu­ing premise, if not ex­actly one it’s easy to be en­tirely con­fi­dent about. ini­tially pitched as an un­of­fi­cial se­quel to 2004’s The Pas­sion Of The Christ, the story ac­tu­ally be­gins with Yeshua (you’ll know him bet­ter as Je­sus) still on the cross, mid-cru­ci­fix­ion. He doesn’t last long, how­ever — his heart pierced by a spear as an act of “mercy”, his body placed in a tomb pro­tected by round-the-clock guards.

These guards are im­por­tant for Jerusalem’s ruler, Pon­tius Pi­late (Peter firth) — he needs to quell ru­mours Yeshua is the mes­siah. if the body is taken, it can’t be pre­sented to the crowds as proof he hasn’t been res­ur­rected. so when the body does dis­ap­pear, his right-hand man clav­ius (Joseph fi­ennes) is un­der strict or­ders to find it and get it back fast, be­fore it rots be­yond all recog­ni­tion and the story gains trac­tion.

This is where the film is at its best. clav­ius is a man plagued by his in­ept sol­diers, dis­rup­tive lo­cals and a con­ti­nu­ity-de­fy­ing cut on his lip, and his in­ves­ti­ga­tions around Jerusalem pitch him as a bib­li­cal-era columbo — we’re in on what’s re­ally go­ing on (christ has risen), but he’s yet to dis­cover the truth.

And then he does, with about 40 min­utes to go. And you (most likely) know the drill from here — apos­tles, Galilee, as­cen­sion to Heaven. There’s a de­cent ac­tion scene as the dis­ci­ples try to avoid cap­ture in the desert, but from hereon out it feels like a chris­tian TV chan­nel’s sun­day mat­inée. and when was the last time you spent any time in the com­pany of one of those?

Ver­dict It has its mo­ments, but it blows the in­ter­est­ing premise — the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus told as a mys­tery — too early for an over­long, overly re­li­gious fi­nale.

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