I looked at this movie and thought, “alright, it’s kind of a Jesus movie, but Jesus isn’t the prime focus.” In fact, it’s a Roman soldier looking for the man that people are saying is Jesus. So this had possibilities. And seeing a Fiennes name attached to anything is always a plus. They’re a bunch of good actors, even though Ralph is certainly the more well-known. But in any case, this movie seemed pretty interesting and I was down to see it. So long as there wasn’t any heavy-handed religious crap to deal with, I’d have lived. How did the movie hold up from my initial thoughts? This is my honest opinion of RISEN.
The story follows respected Roman soldier Clavius (Joseph Finnes). He is tasked with overseeing the death of Jesus and orders his execution as he has not died from being crucified. He buries his body in the cave and seals the entrance. But days later, some disturbing talk is afoot about Jesus not being dead. So begins a manhunt for the man who claims to be Jesus, or maybe… there is truly more to this “imposter” than anyone believed.
FUN FACT: this is supposed to be a spiritual sequel to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.
Oh my god, it’s so… BORING!!! Ugh, in the name of all that is holy and sacred, I can’t even.
Well, let me tell you what I thought the trailer would make it out to be: a thriller. Yeah, the trailer is kind of exciting. You don’t see Jesus at all, and you just have a bunch of soldiers looking for a man who claims to be Jesus. This had the potential to be a pretty exciting story. You know what I got? A piss poor video game. “Your mission: go here. Capture this man. Question him. Go here. Capture this man. Question him. RE FUCKING PEAT!!!” FUCK, I was fighting the whole first half of that movie to stay awake. There isn’t even any change in structure of each scene. All he does is ask the same question. “Where is the Nazarene?” Over and over and over and over, it was driving me absolutely insane.
To be completely honest, I can’t even really remember all that much. This movie is so forgettable that I have to look at the notes I wrote down for the movie to remember that there was emphasis on the Empire showing up in Rome, or something like that, but the only person this really affects is Pontius Pilate, who is kind of an annoying character that constantly complains. Even Clavius seems bored of this news. If this raises stakes, then it’s done in a poor way and the audience isn’t invested. I sure wasn’t.
So… is the movie all bad? Eh… yeah, but there are a couple redeeming elements. While seventy percent of Fiennes’ performance seems remarkably disconnected from this movie, he has bouts of amazing delivery when Jesus comes back. When he finally sees Jesus for the first time since his crucifixion, he’s genuinely speechless in a way that didn’t seem forced. This is a man of reality and duty, and to see a dead man not only not dead, but very alive, truly affects him. His perception of what’s real completely changes him to the point of abandoning his job in pursuit of something he feels is more important, even if he doesn’t quite know what that is.
In fact, the emotional payoff scene is when he’s talking to Jesus and admits that he’s the one that ordered his execution. He doesn’t ask for forgiveness out loud, but you see it in his eyes that he’s truly remorseful. And Jesus doesn’t say that he forgives him out loud, but again, he just gives a look of forgiveness. That was about the most powerful scene in the movie. It’s surprisingly well done.
Would I watch this movie again? Probably not. I commend it for not being too heavy-handed in religious pandering, or at least I didn’t catch on to any, but there are too few good scenes for me to ever really give this movie a recommendation. If you’re a religious person, have at it, maybe you’ll get something out of it that I couldn’t. But as for the general masses who just look for quality stories and memorable characters, pass on this one.
My honest rating: 2/5