The film Risen is a flashback told through the eyes of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) a tribune of Pontius Pilate. It begins with Clavius recounting a Zealot revolution led by none other than Barabbas, the very man that Pilate set free instead of Jesus. I will go ahead and warn you. It is pretty barbaric and bloody, and this is part of the reason the film is rated PG-13. After squashing this rebellion, Clavius is summoned by Pilate to go to the scene of the Crucifixion. This is the other scene that caused this PG-13 rating. However, as bloody as these scenes were, they still paled in comparison to Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. In addition to overseeing the end of the Crucifixion, Clavius is given a new right hand man, who is the son of one of Pilate's friend. His name is Lucius, and he is played by Tom Felton. (Yes, you read that right Draco Malfoy is answering to the brother of Lord Voldemort. Back to the review though!)
At the Crucifixion, we see different people who were affected and how they responded to it. We see the anguish of Jesus' Mother Mary. We see the doubt of the centurion at Jesus' death and his wondering if they killed an innocent man. We even see how it troubles Clavius and Lucius at the death of this man called Yeshua (Jesus Christ). The body is removed by Joseph of Arimathea and sealed in the tomb. The Resurrection occurs and the city is abuzz. Did Yeshua really rise from the dead? Was the body stolen? What really happened? This leads to the central plot of the movie. Clavius and Lucius are tasked with solving this mystery. In this movie, you will see the change and growth of Clavius and his search for the Ultimate Truth.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie honestly. Christian films generally go one of two ways in Hollywood. They are either overly preachy with less than stellar actors (Facing Giants and Facing the Giants), or they have big name actors which are so far from the truth, you wonder why they even bothered (Noah). This movie, thankfully, did not go to either of those extremes. It managed to convey Biblical truths while adapting a little bit of creative license with some of the story. What impressed me most is that a movie called Risen managed to keep Jesus at the center without Him being the main character. Instead, we put ourselves in the searching shoes of Clavius. About the only thing I didn't like about the movie was the character of Pilate. I confess I admit that I am a bit of a Pilate apologist and feel like he is not as much a villain as he is made out to be. Could he have stopped the Crucifixion? Yes, but others could have as well. Some Christian traditions (not many mind you) think he later converted. I like to hope he did, but its impossible to prove.
Back to the movie review. The main two messages of this movie are one of searching and one of conversion. Just like Clavius, all of mankind is searching for the Truth. Some people will never find the Truth. Others, if they are humble and honest with themselves, will eventually find it in Jesus and experience true conversion. If you are looking for a brilliantly acted religious movie that is historical but timeless, then pre-order a copy of Risen!
This movie was provided to me for free by Carmel Communications in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to see a preview of the movie, check out the video below.