Movie Review: Risen (2016) 3.5 Stars


Released: 02/19/2016

Watched BluRay: 06/23/2016

Directed by: Kevin Reynolds
Story by Paul Aiello

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Brief Plot Synopsis (via IMdb): In 33 AD, a Roman Tribune in Judea is tasked to find the missing body of an executed Jew rumored to have risen from the dead.

My Thoughts

I normally detest police procedurals (there are way too many of those in a myriad of permutations in prime-time television), but this one intrigued me.  Excellent sets, costumes, locations and above average acting gave me hope that this faith-based film would overcome it’s predecessors shortcomings.  And for the most part, I was not disappointed.  I had minor historical quibbles which I confirmed at IMdb’s Goofs page ( I caught them all without checking the internet).

The only scene I didn’t care for involved Yeshua’s healing of the leper.  Or at least the leper’s reaction to his miraculous recovery. His non-reaction bothered me.  No shock, surprise, nothing – not even a smile.  He just continued walking off into the distance.  And this was the pivotal scene for the benefit of Clavius and his conversion.

My favorite scene though was the improbable situation of Clavius leading the disciples as they escaped a troupe of Roman legionnaires sent to capture and/or kill them.  Finnes and Felton (as Lucious – that irony was not lost on me) gave excellent performances during their tension-wrought and near-fatal reunion.

Some critics complained that Peter’s response to Clavius self-defensive attack came across as pagan and un-Christ-like.  However, I think it was spot on, if you know Peter.

The bookend scenes didn’t do much for me, but did provide a framework for the director and writer to let Clavius step out and respond to Yeshua’s Great Commission.  Pilate’s flippant observation the rumors of the risen Yeshua would soon be forgotten as Caesar approaches on his barge (another not-quite-historically accurate artistic license).   Both are as dust in the wind while Yeshua’s message continues to spread.

Risen is easier to watch than The Passion of the Christ, but powerful in it’s own way.  A different kind of testimonial.  Some of it reminded me of Strobel’s The Case for Christ.

If you are already well versed in the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, you will enjoy this change of perspective.  If you’re completely unaware of this story, enjoy it for the mystery and wonder and let it open your heart to other miracles.