Guess who’s back? The hunt is on for Christianity’s resurrected redeemer Jesus Christ, but sadly – like most religious material – it’s less exciting than it sounds.
⭐ ⭐ ½
From director Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) comes Risen, based on the rarely adapted part of the Bible following on from Jesus’ crucifixion. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman Centurion and non-believer, oversees the public execution and subsequent burial of Jesus of Nazareth under the order of the tyrannical Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth). As prophesised, Jesus’ tomb is found mysteriously empty three days later, so Clavius and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) are tasked with finding the Messiah’s body and quelling a potential uprising in Jerusalem; though increasingly miraculous events throughout his investigation cause Clavius to rethink his own scepticism.
Risen was originally envisioned as a sequel to The Passion of the Christ (though thankfully it is much less graphic), and while it’s definitely refreshing to see the aftermath of the well-worn main event, it is inevitably much less compelling following on from the more interesting life and final days of Christianity’s numero uno. There’s interesting, even thoughtful moments, particularly in the murder mystery-esque interrogations Clavius conducts in the first half, but eventually it trickles out into a growing reliance on faith to mask plot contrivances.
Fiennes carries the film convincingly as his pessimist evolves upon exposure to the unexplained, and Felton still amuses as a snivelling twerp post-Malfoy, but ultimately this is a fairly bland and unremarkable affair, lacking the added liberations or spectacle most studio adapted Bible tales inject to appeal to a wider audience. A dry script and visual palette limit Risen to only the most enthusiastic religious or historical devotees – still, it does beat actually going to church.
Risen is available in Australian cinemas from February 18th
Images courtesy of Sony Pictures