“For Greater Glory” (Arc Entertainment)
“For Greater Glory” is a movie that examines the 1926 Mexican war of rebellion between the Catholic Church and the sitting government. It is a film that is slow at the start but builds excitement and emotional power toward the end. Andy Garcia heads a competent cast of actors, some of whom have very little to do but make a cameo appearance.
In 1926 Elias Calles (Reuben Blades) was the President of Mexico. He clamped down hard on the Catholic Church leading to an uprising against him. There were various factions in opposition to him across the country but there was no unity between them. Finally a retired General by the name of Velarde (Garcia) was talked into heading up all of the troops in the rebellion.
As all of this is going on, the film also tells the story of a young teenager named Jose (Mauricio Kuri). At the start of the film he becomes an altar boy at the local church under the guidance of Father Christopher (Peter O’Toole). When the “war” starts he and a friend try to join the rebelling group called the Cristeros. They end up in the General’s camp where he uses them for different clean up jobs. Jose is dedicated to the cause and becomes a fierce believer in the deeds of the General and his troops.
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All of the actions in the film are told from the rebels’ side, which makes it the Church’s side. We see the acts of torture against the people, and the heroic acts are committed by persons who are in that group. There is very little positive shown about the President and his troops.
The acting is good but not great. Garcia makes an enigmatic and reluctant hero. As his wife Longoria has very little to do. Oscar Isaac is a standout as the rebel leader Ramirez. He projects the swagger and ruthlessness which are necessary to portray the character.
The film is rated R for profanity and violence.
The story is fragmented at the start and it is not until the end that it all seems to come together. At that point the emotional impact of the story kicks in and involves the audience. Since the Mexican Army is shown not to have any hesitation in torturing and murdering children, much of the violence in the film is directed at them. This makes some scenes very difficult to watch.
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“For Greater Glory” is a movie with a noble purpose but the execution of the film is lacking. The greatness of the film is limited by the average acting of the cast and the lack of unification in the story. If all the emotion and strength of story that occur in the final third of the film had been matched in the earlier part of the movie, the overall effect would have been a much, much better film.
I scored “For Greater Glory” a rebellious 5 out of 10.
Photo courtesy of: Arc Entertainment
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