Risen is a Biblical Drama/Adventure film that follows Roman Tribune ‘Clavius’ (Joseph Fiennes) who is tasked with investigating the disappearance of the body of ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, who has been rumoured to have resurrected. This movie was a very pleasant surprise as i went into it expecting just an average film about a story that has been represented on the big screen many many times, but i got a very interesting, and dramatic film that had me hooked right to the very end. Many of these biblical films do touch on many of the same beats, but this film approached the story in some interesting ways and offered enough new to differentiate it from the others. The film featured some excellent/very good and convincing performances, but also had one or two miscasts. The story progressed at a steady pace for most of the film making it very easy to follow, and the film was also accompanied by a pretty good soundtrack that i did not expect at all.
One thing this film did with its story that really worked in its favour was tell the story through the eyes of a non-believer, and that added so much more to the story and more interest in the film. This added element let the story take turns that you wouldn’t get from just an average biblical film and was great to see. The film also ‘looked’ very good in terms of the scenery and cinematography, it was very subdued and didn’t really have grand set pieces and scenery that were obviously CGI. This really helped the film seem very grounded and i couldn’t be distracted by any obvious CGI.
I have to say that i enjoyed the last 2/3 of the film much more than the first 1/3. I felt that there were some pretty big pacing issues in the beginning where it either felt like it was progressing too slow or it was moving too fast. There was a lot of jumping through time and skipping over quite a few scenes, and it was quite jarring at times. But as the story developed it quickly flowed at a very steady pace for the rest of the film and i quickly forgave it for its earlier blunders. In terms of performance, Joseph Fiennes was fantastic in the film as ‘Clavius’, he was the standout in the film and put in a very convincing and engaging performance that carried the film, especially early on. There were also good performances from other side-characters who elevated the film especially later on, but they weren’t all good. Peter Firth who was cast as ‘Pontius Pilate’ was really not good at all, the way he delivered his lines felt very forced and not natural at all. Tom Felton was also a complete miscast, he just did not work at all as a Roman Soldier and his dialogue was very wooden and fake and just gave the impression that he was overacting and did take me out of it a little.
So in the end this was a surprisingly very good biblical film that offered enough new elements to this familiar story to differentiate it from the countless other similar films. This film would have been much better had they cast someone other than Tom Felton, as he was bringing down the film when Joseph Fiennes was putting in a fantastic performance. It’s no ‘Passion of the Christ’ but it is better than a lot of other biblical films to come out in recent years.