So, one of our greatest predictors of movie quality these days is the critic/viewer split. Movies like Machine Gun Preacher, Blue Like Jazz and Act of Valor are just a few of the movies that viewers (like us) enjoyed which critics excoriated.
The latest entry in this category is the 16/83% split For Greater Glory, starring Andy Garcia, Peter O’Toole (in his last-ish role! Thank God!) and Tron, himself, Mr. Bruce Greenwood. No, wait, Tron was Bruce Boxleitner. Never mind.
This is the true story of the Cristiada, the three year struggle of Christians which began with El Presidente de Mexico Calles basically outlawing Catholicism. Calles, an atheist and a totalitarian (funny how often those go together) didn’t care for the power of the Roman Catholic Church in his country, so he forbade its practice and rounded up and killed or deported its clergy.
If only people weren’t so religious, atheists wouldn’t have to keep killing them.
Well, that’s what I kept thinking during this, what with atheists constantly telling us how religion is the source of so much evil in the world. And yet, every time an atheist comes to power, his first order of business seems to be to kill religious people.
Well, anyway, with the heroic religious warriors fighting the oppresive state, the first miracle is that it got made at all, and the second one is that it managed to get a whole 16% from critics.
How is it, really? The Boy and I both liked it, but we had some reservations. For lack of a better word, it’s kind of square. Maybe it’s intended to appeal to people who don’t frequent movies often, but for the seasoned moviegoer, there’s a lot of setup and character development that’s sort of obvious.
It’s not exactly slow in these parts, mind you, just maybe in need of some tighter editing. Maybe.
Other than that, it’s nicely shot and acted. Oh, the music was a little square, too. A little on-the-nose, if you will. Not quite “Star Wars” on-the-nose but then stromtroopers going around killing priests is a little order 66.
The main attraction of this film is Andy Garcia, as the atheist generale who is lured into uniting the Cristeros, who are separate groups of fighters with no central command, into a real army. The movie portrays him as a man interested in freedom, and sort of puzzled by the devotion to God, but who slowly moves toward God through his association with the Cristeros and a boy who has fled his home town to help the rebels after government thugs shoot his priest in front of him.
The action scenes pop, though The Boy pointed out that it seemed like a few of them felt rushed, with some of the less necessary exposition being favored in lieu of drawing out the otherwise very good action scenes.
It reminded me a bit of Garcia’s non-pro-Castro Cuban Revolution flick The Lost City, though this actually is more enjoyable to watch. Overall, I’d recommend if you’re interested in any of the elements: Mexican history (though obviously this should not be your only source of information about the Cristiada), Man’s struggle with God, Man’s struggle with Totalitarianism, Andy Garcia.
I’d say first-time director Dean Wright and screenwriter Michael Love have made a solid flick here, if not exactly a masterpiece.