Hot Take: Risen tries. The point of view is unique and gives a different perspective on the tale of the Resurrection but it’s not enough to escape mediocrity.
On the plus side, Risen is well-acted and director Kevin Reynolds insures it is made with quality and detail. There’s a fresh perspective as the film is told from the Roman point of view which helps Risen appear restrained. It’s the exact opposite of 2004’s The Passion of the Christ as it paints with a broader narrative brush and tones down the religious zeal of it’s unofficial predecessor.
On the other hand, Risen fails to do anything more than many TV movies or mini-series have in the past with similar topics. It feels unnecessarily thrust on to the big screen when it could have just as easily worked on network television or as a made-for-cable movie. Also, the first half of the film feels more derivative of one of the many crime dramas we’re deluged with around the clock on network TV, TNT or the USA network. And that’s the more interesting part of the movie. The second half becomes preachy and more appeasing to an expected audience. Not that pleasing your audience isn’t smart or recommended, it just doesn’t guarantee quality.
Risen is watchable but predictable and probably something that could wait for home viewing. The most devout Christian sect of the audience might disagree with that take and feel compelled to see it in theaters and it’s unlikely they’ll be disappointed.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Joseph Fiennes
Though he’s proven capable of better, Fiennes performance as Clavius is worthy of praise.
- Point of View
It’s fresh to see the story told from a different point of view even if it’s obvious the writer and director aren’t selling that view.
- The Law & Order Approach
All that’s missing is an opening: “In ancient civilization, acts of religious zealousness are considered especially heinous. In Jerusalem, the most zealous are pursued by the tribunes of the Roman military. These are their stories.” Cue sound effect.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Apostles
Based on this telling, you’d get the idea the Apostles were hippies.
- Despite the Point of View Twist, There’s Not Much New
While applauding the twist on the point of view, it’s important to point out there isn’t much groundbreaking material the rest of the way.
- Even If It Isn’t Preaching, It’s Still Made For the Choir
The more discerning, non-religious viewers will likely dismiss the film due to it’s leaning which is misleading due to the angle at which the story is told from.