RISEN – A Youth Pastor’s Review
Rated PG-13 for Biblical violence including some disturbing images.
Starring Joseph Fiennes, Peter Firth and Cliff Curtis,
Directed by Kevin Reynolds
As a Christian, I loved how this film was an exciting new look at the crucifixion and the events following the resurrection.
Roman military tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) remains set in his ways after serving 25 years in the army. He arrives at a crossroad when he’s tasked to investigate the mystery of what happened to Jesus (Cliff Curtis) following the Crucifixion. Accompanied by trusted aide Lucius (Tom Felton), his quest to disprove rumors of a risen Messiah makes him question his own beliefs and spirituality. As his journey takes him to places never dreamed of, Clavius discovers the truth that he’s been seeking.
Director and co-writer Kevin Reynolds, along with screenwriter Paul Aiello, present the events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of a true skeptic. In this case, that would be a Roman tribune named Clavius, portrayed by Joseph Fiennes.
And Fiennes is spectacular. His plays a very strong character who is wrestling with life’s biggest question. In fact, at one point he simply, yet profoundly states that he is wagering his eternity. I loved the honesty and authenticity of the struggle.
We see him oversee the crucifixion of Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus), and the two thieves. Speaking of Cliff Curtis, he is an olive-skinned actor who just might be what Jesus really looked like. He and Fiennes are so good together. In fact, they avoided any contact on set except for when they were filming scenes together—the result is very convincing on-screen chemistry. And I have to say that I absolutely loved Paco Manzanedo’s portrayal of the centurion who acknowledges that there was something different about “this man.” It is a very small role, but he nailed it.
Finally, the Apostles are very likeable. We see them as flawed, broken, scared men who are trying their best to be devoted followers of Jesus. We get to see them struggling with doubt and worried about the future. We see them laughing and crying—and I laughed and cried with them.
Let’s be honest, RISEN could have been cheesy and/or overly dramatic. But it is truly captivating and I loved it from beginning to end.
WHAT YOU NEED2KNOW
The battle and crucifixion scenes are pretty intense, but should be fine for most teenagers. This really could be an interesting film to watch as a youth group. Make sure you check out our free resources for this film here: http://risen.interlinc-online.com