The year is 33 AD and the Romans are fighting the followers of yet another prophet – false, as the Romans would deem him, they prefer deities such as Minerva and Mars. Wholesale slaughter and crucifixions are the order of the day and among the crucified are Jesus, named Yashua throughout this reasonably passable movie.
Fiennes plays Clavius, the Roman Military Tribune driven by the blood-lust that characterises the regime in Jerusalem. Clavius locks eyes with Yashua as he draws his last breath on the cross - it’s a pivotal scene that sets the grounds for the relationship between the future Messiah and his convert.
Meanwhile, Clavius’s boss the prefect Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) is infuriated to discover that the tomb in which Yashua was buried is found to be empty. This is the tomb whose stone was rolled into place byClavius himself, so he is as mystified by the disappearance as everybody else is. If the body is not found, Yashua’s followers will proclaim that their Lord has risen and Roman authority will be seriously threatened as a result. The Emperor Tiberius is due to visit and relative calm must be restored.
Simon Peter (Stewart Scudamore) and Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) spy the Roman soldiers who are searching for them.
So Clavius is instructed by Pilate to scour the land for the body of Yashua. This involves disinterring crucified corpses from the quicklime graves in which they have been buried all to no avail. Meanwhile, Clavius begins some serious soul-searching about his own role as Military Tribune. Thankfully, the narrative settles into a passable story after the annoying cheeky chappy London accents and incongruous idioms of the first half fade. "It'll not be long," coos the emollient soldier who pierces Jesus's side - as though such tender sensitivities to the victim could exist back then - somehow one doubts it.
The apostles are to a man smiling, chilled and hirsute hippy types delighted to follow their leader to Galilee, and delighted too in the throes of hunger to haul in their suddenly bursting nets, a miracle which is depicted with requisite drama.
Note too that the bearded, long-haired Yashua has the unflappably sunny disposition of Hozier, no less, who, come to think of it , is a kind of national saint for ourselves. Risen is a reasonably decent movie, ideal for a young teenage audience. However, most adults will see it as little more than a reasonably clever whodunnit spin on the Resurrection.