The film follows the true story of the 1920s Cristero War – the daring people’s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America. Directed by Dean Wright and produced by Pablo Jose Barroso, FOR GREATER GLORY stars Academy Award® nominee Andy Garcia, Golden Globe winner Eva Longoria, Oscar® winner Peter O’Toole, rising star Oscar Isaac (DRIVE), recording star and actor Ruben Blades (SAFE HOUSE), Bruce Greenwood (STAR TREK, SUPER 8), Nestor Carbonell (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, “Lost”), Bruce McGill (LINCOLN), Santiago Cabrera (“Heroes,” CHE), Oscar®-nominated Catalina Sandino Moreno (MARIA FULL OF GRACE) and Eduardo Verástegui (BELLA).
The film is available on VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray, at an SRP of $26.99 for the DVD, $32.99 for the Blu-Ray and $32.99 for the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.
I do not know if the film shot in Mexico, For Greater Glory, will have the same impact on viewers in the U. S. as it has in Mexico about the daring revolt against the government by the people that shook some countries during the early 20th century. I do have no doubt that those viewers who do choose to see it will walk away impacted one way or another after learning a bit of Mexico’s civil war history that has been kept quiet for almost a century. ARC Entertainment released the action epic in English titled For Greater Glory in U.S. theaters on June 1st, after having been released as Cristiada in Mexico on April 20th and remained in theaters in Mexico for quite a while. While viewing the website in Spanish this past summer, there are several posts by viewers that stir emotion as they relate they are descendants of people who were involved in the war.
It cannot be said that this is a 100% perfect production, as it does have some flaws, some more glaring than others, specifically, the use of the accents by a couple of the actors that went from a Spanish speaking one back to very English sounding in the same sentence.
It is good in that it relates a little known fact of world history- an uprising in the name of freedom in the Americas – which many in the world may not know of and have not seen as a feature film. The script written by Michael Love, in collaboration with producer Pablo Jose Barroso, relates various points of view by the people participating in the revolt, the Mexican government, as well as that of our nation.
There are many characters introduced with many of their stories trying to be told at once, some more than others and it may be confusing to some viewers. At the end of the film, there is a notice added that some of the characters were beatified by the Pope or canonized. One of them listed is Anacieto Gonzalez, yet in the film, the script shows he is one of the leaders, but does not clearly demonstrate this character’s full leadership role that led to him having been beatified or canonized a few years ago.
“For Greater Glory is a powerful true story that has been a passion project for all those involved,” said producer Pablo Jose Barroso. Dean Wright makes his directorial debut with For Greater Glory and his experience with Hollywood blockbusters (Titanic, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia) does provide some stunningly visual battle scenes, in particular, two that I recall with riders on their beautiful horses, felled by bullets. These scenes and historic locations throughout Mexico where the film is shot are beautifully captured by the director of photography, Eduardo Martinez Solares (Bad Habits).
Oscar®-nominated editor Richard Francis-Bruce (The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), production designer Salvador Parra (Volver) and Oscar®-winning composer James Horner (Avatar, Titanic, Braveheart) all provide expert skills that does elevate this feature film to one worth spending money on despite some of the slight drawbacks that I do not believe all viewers will catch.
Blades excels in his performance as a political figure and I did enjoy the scene between him and Garcia as Calles and Gorostieta. Garcia does well as this general in many scenes, but at times, some of the lines are just not powerful enough for his talent.
Longoria has little screen time, but her costumes and makeup for the early 20th century look are extremely well done for transforming her beauty for the era. I did catch a few of her mannerisms and style from her acting in the well known television series she is known for.
Mauricio Kuri is a good young actor, but some scenes are too dramatic – not due to his talent, but of the lines he is given. He should be one to watch in future films after having this experience with the caliber of talent associated with this film.
The multinational cast includes the legendary Peter O’Toole as an elderly priest who mentors Sanchez, Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, Super 8) as the U. S. ambassador negotiating with the Mexican government, Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Night Rises), Bruce McGill (Lincoln) as President Coolidge, Santiago Cabrera (“Heroes,” Che), Oscar®-nominated Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full Of Grace) and Eduardo Verástegui (Bella).
Some of the violent war scenes may be too harsh for young viewers and some adults will find them hard to watch as with any war scenes. It is one I still recommend viewing and learning from this film, trying to keep from being overly critical for the few glitches. I hope to view the Spanish version in the future and enjoy it in the language native to the land where people stood up for freedom.
In For Greater Glory, an impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country. General Enrique Gorostieta (Garcia), a retired military man turned bored business man at first thinks he has nothing personal at stake as he and his wife Tulita (Longoria) watch Mexico fall into a violent civil war. Hesitant in joining the cause, he becomes an inspiring and self-sacrificing leader as he begins to see the cost of religious persecution on his countrymen. He transforms a rag-tag band of rebels into a heroic force to be reckoned with; some led by feisty “El Catorce” (rapidly rising star Oscar Isaac –Drive, W.E. and The Bourne Legacy). Facing impossible odds against a powerful and ruthless government headed by President Plutarco Elias Calles (Rubén Blades), the youthful idealists, renegades and one remarkable teenager, José Luis Sanchez (Kuri), reveal how courage and belief are forged even when justice seems lost.