Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
How did Jesus Christ die? Answer
Archaeology—Have any burial sites been found for the people involved in Christ’s life and death? Answer
Is Jesus Christ a man, or is he God? Answer
If Jesus is God, how could he die? If Jesus died on the cross, then how can he be alive today? Answer
Was Jesus Christ God, manifest in human form? Answer
Is Jesus Christ really God? Answer
If Jesus was the Son of God, why did He call Himself the Son of Man? Answer
|Featuring:|| Joseph Fiennes … Clavius
Tom Felton … Lucius
Peter Firth … Pilate
Cliff Curtis … Yeshua
María Botto … Mary Magdalene
Luis Callejo … Joses
Antonio Gil … Joseph of Arimathea
Richard Atwill … Polybius
Stewart Scudamore … Peter
|Director:||Kevin Reynolds—“Waterworld” (1995), “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991), “Hatfields and McCoys”|
Patrick Aiello Productions
|Distributor:||TriStar Pictures, a division of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment|
“A high-ranking Roman soldier tries to prove the resurrection was a hoax”
Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is a harsh Roman Tribune whom many fear. Working under the notorious Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth), Clavius leads legions of Roman soldiers on a daily basis, from the battlefield to the city streets. Clavius is a very smart, skilled tribune who appears to have control over nearly every situation he faces. However, his world is turned upside down as he encounters the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Clavius is shaken by this experience, and after the body of Christ “disappears,” he is ordered by Pilate to find His body, whether He be dead or alive. But little does Clavius know that this manhunt will turn into a spiritual journey that will not only change his life, but the course of human history… forever.
“Risen” is a unique and clever fictional re-telling of the crucifixion of Christ as told from the perspective of a non-believing Roman soldier. Joseph Fiennes is in fine form as Clavius and steals the show in the lead role. Some of the cinematography in “Risen” is beautifully shot and is accompanied by an epic musical score.
The story is a bit bumpy at times and lacks in narrative structure as the feature runs under 110 minutes. Although the film contains some good dialog, a majority of scenes are weakly written, which causes the film’s intriguing story to suffer slightly. Kevin Reynolds does not prove to show himself as a great director as he guides his audience through this Biblical tale, but he does do a solid job of delivering some intense, edge of your seat moments and well-executed action sequences. Overall, “Risen” may not be the best fictional re-telling of the Crucifixion, but it is certainly a refreshing take on the greatest story ever told and does not overly preach to its audience, either.
As one may assume, “Risen” does contain quite a bit of violence. However, this is the only content to be concerned about. The sexual content is minor, as we see a few shirtless men wrapped in only but loincloths in a couple different scenes (once in a Roman bath and another during a crucifixion). Pilate asks Clavius what he may desire, including a massage or a girl. Clavius shows no interest in either. When Clavius asks a group of men if any of them know what Mary Magdalene looks like, many raise their hands slightly, implying that they may have slept with her. It is implied that she is a “woman of the street” which is never addressed in Scripture. There is no vulgar or profane language.
The violence is moderate to heavy, as there is a fairly high body count in this film. Near the beginning, there is an intense battle scene with characters being stabbed with spears and swords and being shot with arrows. Some impact is seen, but it is not graphic. Some blood is shed, and one character is executed by sword. The impact is not seen, but is heard, and we see his bloodied body fall from a fair distance, after the fact. A violent earthquake rattles the world around many, and bloody men are seen hanging in agony on crosses. A Roman soldier breaks two of three men’s legs to speed up the crucifixion process. The impact is not seen but heard.
Jesus’ side is pierced, but again the impact is only heard, not seen. Piles of dead bodies are seen as soldiers look for the body of Christ. Most are viewed from a distance, but a few corpses are seen up close. One decomposing body, in particular, is observed with a scarred face. Bodies are seen being dumped into a heap, and another wrapped body is burned during a funeral. Another brief crucifixion takes place. Clavius describes the excruciating procedure of a crucifixion to a character, and one man is cut in the leg with a sword. Jesus displays His scars to His disciples, and a leper is driven away and beaten by a frightened crowd. The man is covered from head to toe with scars and boils.
Some wine is consumed, and there is mention of some characters being drunk.
“Risen” may not accomplish itself as an extremely well-made feature, but it does accomplish something else—telling the story of the Crucifixion through the eyes of an unbeliever. It was refreshing to see a well-executed fictionalized re-telling of the Easter story told with a different twist. I would also like to give credit to the writers for not being overly preachy with their message. The film focuses mainly on the personal life of Clavius, but does not refrain from the great importance of the life of Christ. Clavius” faith is of great importance in the film, but does not overpower the central plot. The impact that Jesus makes on this one man’s life is beautiful, indeed, especially since Clavius hardly knew anything about Jesus beforehand. All he had were the clues he was piecing together. Clavius knew that there was something different about Jesus. He did not fully understand what it was that made Him so different, until he made that first step of faith and began to follow Christ in His footsteps.
Although “Risen” tells a great faith-based story, the PG-13 rating still needs to be taken seriously, though, as there is some heavy violence on display, including some bloodshed and a few disturbing images. I recommend this film for ages 12+, depending on one’s sensitivity to Biblical violence. The Bible is not “G” rated, though. “Risen” does a solid job of displaying the harsh brutality of the Roman Empire, while refraining from the display of graphic violence. Sometimes, the violence taking place off-screen can be more unsettling than what is seen on-screen.
The filmmakers of “Risen” send a strong message of faith and redemption, and share that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Jesus is the Son of God. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was wounded for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). He died an excruciating death. He saved the world from its sins. And all we have to do is repent and believe. He is risen. He is risen, indeed!
Reviewer’s note: Although “Risen” contains some heavy violence, there is no Biblically offensive content on display. Therefore, I have graded the film “Good—with caution.” The violence many be heavy at times, but the acts are not condoned, and the overall message and theme of the film is Christ honoring and redemptive.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor to moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.