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Risen (Cert 12A)

We’re all familiar with how Jesus’ crucifixion and the events that followed it played out from the point of view of his nearest and dearest. But what if your career and future plans depended on Jesus staying dead?

That’s the “what if” scenario Risen calls us to consider.

Pilate’s buck-passing strategy has backfired; he had thought that allowing Jesus to be crucified would get the Sanhedrin off his back, but instead he faces more potential unrest as Jesus’ followers have been going about declaring that if their leader is killed, he will rise from the dead.

Roman tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is tasked with the job of preventing Jesus’ followers from stealing his body – and then when the body does go missing, with finding it. Risen has been labelled by some as the unofficial sequel to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Thankfully, it's not as graphic as Mel's film was. The opening scene – a battle between a Roman legion and some Jewish zealots – is pretty full-on, but all the impaling and dismembering takes place off camera. When we do catch up with the crucifixion, the worst of it has already happened and Jesus and the other two have been on their crosses for some time. 

Filmed in Malta and Spain, there are so many non-American accents in Risen, I was surprised to discover that it was, in fact, an American film. Alongside Joseph Fiennes's Clavius, there's Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) as his sidekick Lucius, and Peter Firth (Harry Pearce in Spooks) as Pilate.

Argentinean actress Maria Botto plays Mary Magdalene as a strong, defiant woman who refuses to be intimidated by Roman soldiers. And Jesus is played by New Zealander Cliff Curtis, better known to sci-fi and horror fans for his role in the TV series Fear the Walking Dead.

George Luke

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