Movie review: Heavy-handed history in ‘For Greater Glory’
Published: June 1, 2012 02:22PM
Updated: May 31, 2012 06:43PM
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Courtesy Hana Matsumoto | ARC Entertainment Andy Garcia plays a rebel general in Mexico's Cristeros War in the historical drama "For Greater Glory."

They don’t make grandiose historical epics like “For Greater Glory” anymore — because filmmakers in the past 50 years have discovered this thing called subtlety.

First-time director Dean Wright tries to bring sweeping grandeur to the story of the Cristeros War in Mexico, from 1926 to 1929, when Catholic rebels challenged the government’s attempts to rein in the Vatican’s influence on Mexican life.

Wright and screenwriter Michael Love fall squarely on the Catholic side, mythologizing the reluctant general, Enrique Gorostieta Velarde (Andy Garcia), who organized the ragtag rebels into an effective fighting force, while depicting the socialist President Calles (Ruben Blades) almost like a mini-Hitler.

The overstuffed drama includes a gun-toting priest (Santiago Cabrera), a subplot involving a 14-year-old rebel (Mauricio Kuri) who was later canonized by Pope John Paul II, a suggestion of a cabal between U.S. diplomats and the oil industry, and cameo roles for Eva Longoria and Peter O’Toole. What’s missing is any shading or nuance in a black hat/white hat telling of a little-known historical event.

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‘For Greater Glory’

Opens today at area theaters; rated R for war violence and some disturbing images; 131 minutes.