Risen is packaged as a whodunnit religious thriller which takes place around the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is a centurion who is given a task by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to investigate the missing body of Yeshua from the tomb. He has to deal with the truth as well as with the expectations from Pilate and the High Priest that he should stick with the official line – that his corpse is stolen by his disciples.
The movie – directed by Kevin Reynolds – steers carefully not to be overly graphic or ‘in your face’ like The Passion of the Christ. I deliberately did not watch the trailer nor read early reviews of the movie so that I would not be biased by the reports. I must admit that the typography and the look-and-feel of the poster make the movie feel like an extension of The Bible TV miniseries. So I (incorrectly) assumed that there would be rough-around-the-edges special effects – I was pleasantly surprised to see the movie does not feel like a telemovie. Joseph Fiennes‘ presence as well as Peter Firth‘s acting certainly also adds gravitas into the movie.
This movie is naturally aimed at believers – as a faith-based movie, Christians would be interested to see it. Although some Christians have expressed their opposition to the movie, do the fictionalisation of the characters, I actually do not see any basis to their concerns after seeing the movie. Kevin Reynolds faithfully steers the movie within the boundaries set in the Bible so that it does not detract from the real message. It actually adds a different nuance to the events surrounding the resurrection of Christ, as it is seen from the point of view of a non-believer. I also appreciate that the movie is not preachy – I have stated before in my blog that as a Christian, as much as I want to support faith-based movies, I simply do not appreciate preachy movies with unnatural and wooden conversations. That said, the weakness of the movie is the unintelligible conversations between the characters, especially those spoken by Clavius – it’s as if he mumbles for a good three-quarter of the movie and we have to guess what it is that is being said.
I would recommend this movie for those who like to see a different point of view of the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection – to believers and want-to-be believers. Non-believers may pooh pooh this movie, but I’d say, go and see it – maybe you can empathise with Clavius’ quest to find peace and a time where death is no more.