Reviewed by Andy Bowers
Rating: 5 Beans
ntonia Banderas in a religious thriller? What's next, Melanie Griffith as an undercover cop trying to break up a jewel smuggling ring amidst a sect of devout Jews? Oh, sorry, she already did that (the cheesier than thou - A Stranger Among Us)
Banderas plays a sort of hybrid cop-priest (He's JAG for God) sent to examine a body accidentally found inside a tomb during some excavation in down-town Jerusalem. The church seems to have reservations that something this newsworthy should go public. Banderas, is sent to quell the local inquest, the politicians with shady plans and a comely archaeologist (natch - but she doesn't tempt him to break vows enough) , since rumblings have already started that perhaps it could in fact be the body of Jesus.
The shroud on the body seems to ring true, the crucifixion scars are there, even the DNA holds up in scientific examination. But if the body was still encased within the tomb could this mean Christ never rose from the dead as prophesized?
Such dire ramifications could destroy the entire fabric of the church, it's elaboate history and it's loyal followers beliefs not to mention all the cash those lucrative donations bring in every Sunday.
Pretty heavy stuff. Certainly not of the same dramatic caliber of say, "Priest" but more compelling than Sister Act 2 or Nuns on the Run. The Body will challenge you to think, but ultimately doesn't push the sacred envelope enough.
I appreciate most movies that leave an ending for you to decide what happens next (Memento). Neat pretty bows are good atop birthday presents, but I don't want all conclusions drawn for me. The Body does begin to make that offering, but it proceeds to unravel into a bad Action Jackson sequel in it's last fifteen minutes. You then start to wonder if you're watching a religious pot-boiler or Shroud of Zorro. Maybe the producers didn't want to meet with nervous backers, as most certainly the Catholic church would have been all over this film (the limited theatrical release reflects such ponderings)
Action seems out of place in a film that at first is intriguing but inevitably ends up as another piece of throw-away Banderas blasphemy. If you want a better religious thriller, slum the old release barrel and pick up the Omen instead.
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