Risen, just like the movie within Hail, Caesar!, is about the Roman man who is tasked with finding the body of the recently deceased son of God. Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) tries desperately to understand how the body of a man that was locked in a tomb escaped, slowly discovering that the man named Yeshua (Cliff Curtis) has risen from the grave. However, the story is told so drearily that it becomes hard to watch. And, unfortunately, the biggest problems with Risen are only compounded on when its plot reminds me of the much better Coen Brothers’ film that was released only a few weeks ago.
The main issue of the movie is that the characters are extremely boring, about as fleshed out and interesting as a bunch of cardboard boxes full of styrofoam. The actors deliver their dialogue (which is almost solely expository) in such a dull and emotionless way that nothing they say has any weight. A story that is supposed to be Biblically epic turns out to be a dull mess when the characters it surrounds don’t even seem interested in what’s going on. This emotionlessness also makes it very difficult for the audience to accept supposed changes in relationships between characters or how characters see the world. Clavius’s change from disbelief to believing in Yeshua comes seemingly from nowhere, as Fiennes’s performance lacks the emotional weight to make the change seem profound. Clavius is supposed to be completely changed by his discovery of the resurrection, but he never seems to go through any changes as a character. The character at the end of the movie feels identical to the one we started with, and that lack of development makes the audience feel like nothing has happened in the story.
And, with the performances and writing making the movie feel sluggish, the end product is agonizingly boring. Monotony sets in pretty quickly, with no relief to be found at any point in the film. I found myself nodding off once or twice, only maintaining consciousness in the hope that something interesting would eventually happen. It didn’t. Thus, I ended up seeing one of the most boring movies I’ve seen in a long time. And boredom is one of the worst sins a film can commit.