Assassin 33 A.D .


            Well, it's a big mess, but it's well-intentioned, and when it doesn't get in its own way, thought-provoking.

            We begin with Brandt (Danny Boaz) in the car with his beautiful wife and two little girls, when suddenly there's a big truck running them over, and next thing Brandt knows, it's just him.  He blames God for his horrible loss.  He returns to his job as security head of a private research firm, embittered and aloof.  But he tells his boss, Ahmed (Gerardo Davila) that he'd rather work than stay at home and feel sorry for himself.

            Where Brandt works is significant, because Ahmed has hired a team of genius scientists to work on transferring matter.  Yes, he wants them to build a time machine.  But he's keeping from them the real reason he wants the time machine:  in order to go back to 33 A.D., and make sure the disciples of Jesus don't steal the body and “create the myth of the resurrection,” which started Christianity.  That way, the Muslim religion will have no rival.

            Whew.  That's quite a stretch.  But writer and director Jim Carroll rushes into that plot, kind of leaving Brandt with his unanswered questions, though he's brought back in later.  The 4 young genius scientists do figure out a way to time-travel to 33 A.D.  There, they encounter Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying alone, then arrested. 

            Ahmed, also taking advantage of the technology, sends a group of commandos to intervene in biblical history.  It's strange seeing the Roman soldiers and all the disciples slain by machine guns.

            But wait, that's just one of the time continuums.  In another attempt, the scientists thwart the commandos, and even get to talk to Jesus themselves.  One seems to have a kind of conversion experience.  Another doubts and asks “Why?” questions, even of Jesus hanging on the cross.  And just to underscore the perspective of the film, Jesus answers in English.

            Yes, there's even a resurrection scene, after an almost-comical mistaken-identity sequence of a couple of the genius scientists getting mistaken for angels because they're holding glow-lights.

            There's a couple of instances of acute attention to biblical detail, like the folded linens in the tomb, and the naked man running away from the scene of the arrest (who was actually one of the scientists?).  But then there's a lot of creative license, like the two thieves hung on either side of Jesus being two of the commandos send by Ahmed.

            And yes, any time-travel movie is going to encounter logical difficulty with the plot sequence.  If they can alter history, then does that create an alternate reality?  At one point, we are shown a depressing kind of post-apocalyptic scene which is supposed to represent what would have happened if Christanity never flourished---i.e., the world would be without forgiveness.  At another point, the participants literally meet each other coming and going.  And of course, the viewer has to decide whether to truly suspend disbelief and go with the flow, which is uneven at best.

            This movie is not going to win any Oscars, or make a lot of money at the box office.  It has the feel of a film school product.  But it's brazenly creative, and features a bizarre never-mind conclusion. You won't see many like it.


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association