A smart look at the origins of faith
“Risen” is more “The Last Temptation of Christ” than “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It’s a film that comes wrapped in the theological teachings of the Bible but is really a procedural drama that looks to fill in the gaps left between the crucifixion and the ascension.
This blend will be jarring to those who believe in the strict narrative of the Bible. And those who love the logical reasoning of a procedural crime drama will have to deal with religion scattered through the tale. Anyone who can appreciate both will find that “Risen” isn’t heavenly, but it is a smart look at the origins of personal faith.
“Risen” begins with the crucifixion of Yeshua (Cliff Curtis) under the direction of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a nonbeliever who is a powerful Roman military officer. His work under Pilate (Peter Firth) has put Clavius in line for power and wealth.
That rise by Clavius is curtailed when the body of Yeshua disappears from a guarded and sealed tomb. Pilate sends Clavius on a mission to
discover the truth behind the disappearance as a way of killing any talk that it was a miracle resurrection.
“Risen” bogs down as Clavius sifts through clues and interrogates witnesses. It’s a primitive form of investigation that moves slowly. The only interesting moment is when Clavius talks with Mary Magdalene (Maria Botto). It’s at that moment that Clavius begins to suspect this isn’t the typical crime that Pilate wants it to be.
The story line of Lucius (Tom Felton) as the new second-in-command for Clavius starts with potential but loses steam quickly. The character ends up being more wasted baggage than key player.
Eventually, Clavius sees the man he watched die on the cross. This is where the film leaves the procedural elements behind and becomes the story of one man’s discovery of faith.
Director Kevin Reynolds should have picked up the movie at this spot. The criminal investigation is nowhere as intriguing as pursuing the question of what would a nonbeliever do once given absolute proof of a higher being.
This is where Fiennes shines (he seems a little bored going through the investigation). Once his character must deal with his crisis of nonfaith, the actor transforms. He maintains the stature he has earned as a Roman leader, but expresses the confusion and acceptance that comes when he finally gets to talk with Yeshua.
Equally as compelling is Curtis. He brings both a power and an openness to the role that make his version of Jesus one of the best played in film.
Reynolds and Paul Aiello have taken liberties with the Bible, changing what has been written about the days leading up to the ascension. It helps serve the narrative, but this is such hallowed ground that any diversions are dangerous.
But this isn’t a direct telling of events in the Bible. “Risen” uses the Bible as a basis for a story about finding faith. As long as you look at the movie from that perspective, then it will accomplish its purpose of creating dialogue about being a believer.
(PG-13, 132 min.) ★★★ ½ Boxer adonis creed’s nickname here is “hollywood,” which is appropriate: this movie — the seventh in the saga of rocky Balboa, and the first to make rocky a supporting player — scores a victory for commercial american filmmaking. reuniting two years after the remarkable, fact-based “Fruitvale station,” writer-director ryan coogler and star Michael B. Jordan tell another story about an earnest young african-american asserting his identity in a society eager to dismiss or stereotype him, but this tale is grounded in myth rather than headlines: Jordan is adonis creed, son of legendary boxer apollo creed, rocky’s nemesis turned friend in the first four “rocky” films. a foster-care orphan ultimately raised in luxury by apollo’s widow (Phylicia rashad), adonis rejects the silver spoon for the padded gloves: he travels to Philadelphia, to recruit the aging rocky to be his trainer. rocky is played by sylvester stallone, of course, in a generous, valedictory
Joseph Fiennes (left) and tom Felton are roman officers investigating the mysterious disappearance of a body from a tomb in “risen.”
ryan reynolds plays the foul-mouthed Marvel hero in “Deadpool.”