For Greater Glory.
Andy Garcia, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Peter OíToole, Eva Longoria Parker, Bruce Greenwood, Oscar Issac, Ruben Blades. Arc Entertainment. Historical action drama. Written by Michael Love. Directed by Dean Wright. 6/1/12
FILM SYNOPSIS: An epic chronicle of the Cristero War (1926-1929), which was touched off by a rebellion against the Mexican governmentís attempt to secularize the country, For Greater Glory concerns an impassioned group of men and women who each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country. General Gorostieta (Andy Garcia) is a retired military man who at first thinks he has nothing personal at stake as he and his wife (Eva Longoria) watch Mexico fall into a violent civil war. Yet the man who hesitates in joining the cause will soon become the resistanceís most inspiring and self-sacrificing leader, as he begins to see the cost of religious persecution on his countrymen.
REVIEW: A compelling, thoughtful homage to religious freedom, this action adventure has style and heart, and forthrightly depicts the need for faith. Replete with epic scale and thematic power, it stands a good chance of being remembered come Oscar time.
There are just so many praise-worthy aspects to this film, not the least of which are the solid performances, especially from Andy Garcia (The Godfather 3, Oceanís Eleven). Mr. Garcia hasnít reached superstardom ala George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but he has always been a reliable actor, one with depth and class. In For Greater Glory, you realize why everyone in Hollywood is glad to work with him. Heís as good as you get.
And letís not forget that this is a film that makes use of Peter OíToole, here playing a priest, a true man of God who returns love for mistreatment. Never heavy-handed or hammy, Mr. OíToole gives us an insightful and inspiring portrait of a good man who affects the spiritual life of a youngster. Bruce Greenwood (Capote, Racing Stripes, Star Trek 2009, Dinner For Schmucks), also deserves a salute. Known more by face than name, Mr. Greenwood is an actorís actor. Whether playing a villain or a heroic figure, he always infuses the part with an organic truth. Here, portraying a U.S. ambassador who does the expedient thing over the right thing, Greenwood relays a casual dimension that avoids stereotype.
Whatís pleasing about these screen personalities besides their performerís prowess is the fact that they are willing to take on roles concerning religious persecution. The film reminds us that Christians, like the Jewish people and so many others, have been persecuted for their faith throughout the centuries. It also sends a message that a right to worship can easily be threatened by a corrupted government.
Dean Wright has worked in several show business arenas, including visual effects and as a production supervisor and coordinator. Here he directs this huge undertaking with grace, wit and style. My only complaint is his decision to allow for the herky-jerky camera, a technique used in many films from this era to generate anxiousness or energize a scene. Itís an effect that doesnít float this Boatwright, for it constantly makes me aware of the cameraís presence. Thereís somebody holding that camera and heís weaving and bobbing it in order to get a desired effect.
The production values, from set and art design to score and editing, are top notch. Perhaps the filmís message is a touch too dogmatically emphasized, but nonetheless, still effective. Its theme of faith is moving and the story points out that tyranny can only last so long before the people rise up.
A clean film, with no objectionable language or exploitive sexual scenes, itís storytelling at its finest. And while the violence is sometimes difficult to view, especially when seen inflicted upon a child, here the brutality serves to stir our hearts and fortify the filmís narrative. Itís a motion picture that reminds us that a personís life is fulfilled only when he is willing to stand for a greater glory.
R (one or two minor expletives, but I caught no harsh language; there are many battle scenes, with lots of people dying for a cause; we see dead men hanging from poles; a couple of people are tortured, including a boy; while there are explosions, shootings, and hangings, it is not meant to be gory or exploitive, but rather used to point out the evil men are capable of; some blood, but not excessive). Running Time: Intended Audience: Teens and up
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