Rated 4.0

A Roman soldier in Pontius Pilate’s Jerusalem (Joseph Fiennes) is tasked with finding the corpse of a crucified Hebrew preacher; it’s clear to Pilate (Peter Firth) that the man’s followers have stolen the body so they can spread a rumor that he has miraculously risen from the dead. We know where this is leading, of course, and the script by Paul Aiello and director Kevin Reynolds gets us there with honesty, intelligence and a surprising absence of preachiness. (In its own way, the movie is a bit of a small miracle itself.) Reynolds establishes a convincing atmosphere of a tense, dusty outpost of empire, and anachronisms are few and unobtrusive to all but the most pedantic. Fine performances, too, from Fiennes, Firth, Tom Felton (as Fiennes’ aide) and Cliff Curtis as the crucified Yeshua (read “Jesus”). J.L.