Risen is far superior to a lot of these movies by simple virtue that it isn't an insufferably preachy film.
Still, Risen isn't all bad. While it has a clear and ever-present agenda, it doesn't feel anywhere near as preachy as these things often do. If you're a nonbeliever, these faith-based movies are often intolerable because of how frequently and violently they try to shove their message down your throat. Risen, meanwhile, is content just sort of doing its thing, not particularly caring whether or not you believe; it does, and that's all that matters.
The sets, costuming, and just general feeling of the time period is also quite effective. While I've said "Jesus" in this review for simplicity's sake, I don't think that name is actually used in the film even once; Jesus is referred to as "Yeshua," the Hebrew name. It's a small thing, but it indicates a level of care that you don't often get to see. Risen didn't have the largest budget - it's reportedly only $20 million - but it doesn't lack in production values. I'll take something like Risen at $20 million than The Legend of Hercules at $70 million any day of the week.
Joseph Fiennes is joined by his cop buddy Tom Felton, who doesn't show any acting depth here except for his apparent inability to blink while in focus. Seriously, I don't think he blinks once while in the foreground. It's like he was dared to keep his eyes open for his entire screen time. Peter Firth shows up as Pontius Pilate, the man who ordered Jesus' crucifixion and then the proceeding manhunt. He's fine, I guess, but he doesn't do a whole lot. Cliff Curtis makes for a kind but otherwise bland Jesus.
Risen is far superior to a lot of these movies by simple virtue that it isn't an insufferably preachy film. It's still a project that sounds better than it does when given more thought - I wonder why that feels appropriate. The plot is divided in two, but neither part works. Joseph Fiennes is fine as a stoic warrior but falters when it comes to showcasing a change in character. But the film has decent production values, it is, at least, a different take on a well-known story, and it's a tolerable movie on the whole. It's unchallenging and largely boring, but it's hard to actively hate.
Bottom Line: It's boring and its plot doesn't work at all, but Risen isn't a terrible watch.
Recommendation: Risen isn't worth seeing, but if you for some reason have to watch a faith-based film, you could do worse.
If you want more of Matthew "Marter" Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.