"Risen" is a serious surprise starring Joseph Fiennes as Clavius, a tough-minded Roman soldier sent to oversee the burial of Jesus following the Crucifixion.
As the biblical account goes, three days later the sealed tomb is empty, and the resurrected Jesus is seen in public with his disciples. This makes Clavius and Pontius Pilate furious, and the manhunt is on.
The first half of "Risen," is a competent, well-acted mystery, filled with odd and compelling characters, from the drunk goofy soldiers guarding the tomb, to the earnest youthfulness of the disciples, many with heavy British accents.
There is even a touch of Harry Potter with Tom Felton playing a fellow Roman. But, just when you think the film might fall into parody, it's elevated by the commanding presence of Joseph Fiennes.
"Risen," is written and directed by Kevin Reynolds, he directed "Waterworld", "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and the Emmy-winning, "Hatfield & McCoys." Reynolds is also the son of former Baylor University President, Herbert Reynolds.
He tackles a difficult subject in "Risen", trying to please both Hollywood and the faithful, succeeding most of the time.
The ending of his movie does drop into message heavy-cliches, but the journey getting there is often fascinating.
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"Risen," is rated a violent PG-13, and runs just under two hours.
It's a good film, not a great film, and features New Zealand actor, Cliff Harris, as the resurrected Messiah.
Telling this familiar biblical story from a non-believing point of view makes it much more interesting for the audience, and it helps to have Joseph Fiennes front and center.