The Mission… If you choose to accept it… watch this movie.
The Mission (1986): 9 out of 10: Films about faith often fail. They tend to be preachy dry affairs starring Kirk Cameron as a man who is addicted to online porn until he finds God and smashes the evil computer with a baseball bat because apparently he has joined the Taliban or something. Most “Christian” films are designed to reinforce the prejudices of a limited choir.
Critically acclaimed “serious” films are also often fairly dry affairs, interested more in being “good” rather than being entertaining. They tend to beat a visual and narrative dead horse rather than entertain for the sake of entertaining.
The Mission is a critically acclaimed movie about faith… and I loved it.
I had avoided the film for twenty years as if it was an “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”. It turns out to be a dynamic, action packed affair, starring Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons and a very young Liam Neeson.
It is a movie about faith. In fact, it is one of the most moving and effect movies about the purpose of faith and redemption I have ever seen. It is also about the historical pact between Spain and Portugal (Treaty of Madrid) and the war on both the natives of the jungle and the powerful Jesuits who protect them.
The movie is told in flashback with a Papal emissary (the excellent Ray McAnally) telling the tale and his tragic role in shaping it. The visuals are often simply amazing and the score by Ennio Morricone is thought to be one of the best of all time. Some critics felt the war scenes at the end muddled but I feel this reflects on the nature of battle and at the very least, this viewer had no trouble following it.
One side notes the film contains a lot of nudity, including some rather shocking child nudity. Since the film is rated PG, one must assume the ratings board used the National Geographic rules in their assessment.
There I go praising the film, no doubt scaring off viewers that are afraid it will be “good.” It is, but it is also entertaining with great action, visuals and top-notch actors.