dir-scr Jonas McCord
with Antonio Banderas, Olivia Williams, Derek Jacobi, Jason Flemyng, John Wood, John Shrapnel, Muhamed Bakri, Makram J Khoury, Sami Samir, Ian McNeice, Vernon Dobtcheff, Jordan Licht
release US 30.Apr.01; UK 9.Nov.01
Helkon 01/Israel 1h44
Well, Antonio is two strikes down this year (but at least Original Sin was trashy fun). This rather feebly made thriller has an intriguing idea at the centre but simply never delivers. Here he plays Father Matt Gutierrez, an American Jesuit called in by a Vatican cardinal (Wood) to investigate a discovery made by an Israeli archaeologist (Williams) in Jerusalem. She's found a secret tomb which, according to all evidence, contains the skeleton of Jesus Christ. So will this find shake the Catholic church to its core? Will it fuel the Israel-Palestine conflict? It seems like everyone is in a frenzy to either prove or disprove the identity of the body.
Writer-director McCord puts it together efficiently, filming on location and drawing in all the story threads. But for such serious material, he shows a lack of real ambition, letting it dissolve into a run-of-the mill thriller that's rather low on actual thrills. It looks and feels like a TV movie with its low-key action, heightened tension, corny music, vague supporting characters and lots of gurgling subplots. As the evidence piles up that the find might be authentic, Banderas is quite good as the priest coming to terms with what might undermine his entire life. And Williams gives a nicely off-handed turn as the sceptic who becomes his unlikely cohort. But the film is increasingly talky as everyone agonises and analyses the central premise to death, even though it's not nearly as deep as it sounds. With all the running around, there's never any time for anyone to actually deal with the implications.
|"I thought the film was actually quite good with strong acting and realistic settings. The actual concept is brilliant. The film challenges a person's faith in regard to their religion and momentarily shatters any belief in the church while revealing itself as a more sinister force than good. This is quite a serious film and not recomended for the younger viewers, however the producer has attempted to ease its almost documentary styled format, which I found ideal for the realistic story, by including a relationship for Banderas and a dramatic shoot 'em up ending. For those interested in supernatural, cult or religious based movies like Stigmata, this should hold their attention throughout. This isn't as clever and twisted as Usual Suspect, but certainly should be given credit. 7/10" --Blake, Kent 7.Dec.01