Here we have the classic story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Yeshua) as seen through the eyes of a Roman tribune who has been ordered to solve the mystery of that missing corpse in time for a pending visit from the Emperor Tiberius. Pontius Pilatedoes NOT want rumors of a Messiah to disturb the tenuous peace he has achieved in Jerusalem.
Carefully written and meticulously directed by Kevin Reynolds ("The Count of Monte Cristo" [2002, the best version filmed so far]) with the able assistance of scribe Paul Aiello, we see a Crime Scene Investigaton-type whodunit set in Biblical times.
- * Joseph Fiennes ("American Horror Story") is Clavius, an experienced and intelligent Roman official, determined to put to rest the rumors that surround this enigma. He is considerate and doesn't abuse his power but the Emperor is soon due in Jerusalem, so he hasn't much time.
- * Tom Felton ("Harry Potter") is Lucius, his ambitious new aide, he wants a promotion but soon is saddled with an enormous secret.
- * Peter Firth ("MI-5") Pontius Pilate was reluctant to crucify Yeshua to start with and now we know that his problems are only beginning...
- * Maria Botto ("Three Many Weddings") is Mary Magdalene, the prime witness. It's clear that many of Clavius's soldiers are familiar with this "lady of the street," so Clavius has no trouble finding her.
- * Antonio Gil ("Quantum of Solace") Joseph of Arimathea had offered a tomb for Yeshua; he feels nothing but exaltation when the stone was rolled aside and the body disappeared.
- * Stephen Hagan (Lots of TV) Bartholomew has an exuberant reaction to the promise a resurrection.
- * Joe Manjón (Lots of TV) is Simon; he and Clavius have a trust issue because Yeshua promised to make him a "fisher of men" and Roman tribunes are not friends.
- * Cliff Curtis ("Columbiana") Yeshua looks like an authentic 33-year-old Jewish man. He doesn't resemble Leonardo da Vinci's idealized blond-haired, blue-eyed Savior we have become so accustomed to seeing. I am deeply grateful for that!
As we follow our official through homes and offices during his investigation in Jerusalem, we appreciate the authenticity of the production design: the clothes, food, homes, furniture and weaponry. I'll criticize the soundtrack though, much of the dialogue is whispered or muttered. Closed captions would have been a big help but they aren't available with press screenings.
NOTE: This is rated PG-13, but it begins with bloody warfare, proceeds to horrific treatment of the three men on those crosses and concludes with Romans digging up rotting corpses to see if they can pass off one as the body of the missing Yeshua. Some of those gruesome scenes are not appropriate for children. Be warned...