risen trailer

The problem with almost every “faith-based” film is that they’re too busy delivering a sermon to tell a good story. There is nothing wrong with entertainment being specifically crafted for Christian audiences, but there is everything wrong with recent movies like God’s Not Dead and The War Room, which coddle their audiences by literally preaching to the choir and no one else.

So we’ll say this much about Risen: if you remove it from the faith-based genre, it still has a killer elevator pitch. This is the story of a Roman soldier tasked with tracking down the body of Jesus Christ, which has vanished from his tomb only days after his execution. With Jesus’ followers stirring up revolution throughout Jerusalem, he has to work fast and, as you can guess, he soon learns that things aren’t quite so simple.

You can cast judgment on the Risen trailer yourself after the the jump.

Unlike so much of its brethren, Risen actually looks like a really movie. The production values on display here aren’t astounding, but they look acceptably grungy and realistic enough. It also helps that there are two real actors headlining this thing in the form of Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton, two capable actors who are about as far from the likes of Kirk Cameron and Kevin Sorbo as you can get. Less of a sure thing is director Kevin Reynolds, who is best known for helming Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waterworld back in the ’90s. The last time film he made was 2006’s Tristan and Isolde and blech.

It’s certainly not going to be Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (which remains the most powerful “Christian” film of all time despite being condemned by so many Christians), but Risen does look better than it has any right to look. Then again, this preview could be specifically cut to emphasize a handful of scenes where the Roman soldiers attempt to come to grips with the religious revolution in their midst. For all we know, the back half of this film is all Fiennes and Felton sharing scripture with each other and praising Jesus’ name and so on.

Here’s the official synopsis for the film:

Risen is the epic Biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton), are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

Risen opens on February 19, 2016. What do you think? Could this be the rare faith-based film that actually works for the secular crowd?

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