In less capable hands, this could’ve been indulgent, tedious or self-righteous, but not so under the passionate steerage of one Martin Scorsese. The film is totally his to own and people like me would not even consider seeing this if not for his association with it. While it’s true that the 2h45m duration can be cut closer to the 2h mark, there is no denying that the long scenes are beautifully composed and every shot is imbued with nuances and mystical symbolism. If the narrative seems slow, the pacing is deliberate and gives a patient audience much to feast upon visually even when the dialogue lapses into philosophical dissertation on faith and spirituality. Which brings us to the subject matter at hand: is it a quiet condemnation of the arrogant nature of Western cultural and/or religious imperialism or is it a poetic yet brutal portrayal of religious suppression of one group by another? Maybe both even? And it is in this ambiguity that the film is found to be most provocative. Liam Neeson is arguably miscast (as once again he can’t be arsed to put on any other accent than his own) but Andrew Garfield continues, post-Spiderman, to be a fascinatingly watchable character actor who can lead a film with class and substance. Adam Driver is also in the movie but it is the Japanese cast that perhaps deserve more of a mention. In the end, the film feels epic and is emotionally resonating, but the toughest thing about watching this film for me is not its length but the self-flagellating nature of the source material that purposefully draws comparison with the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. As thoughtful and admirable as this is, it can get bogged down by the burden and weight of this seriousness and the film comes across as more endurance than enjoyment. So thank god for that poignant epilogue and ending that turn the film around and save it from being a joyless ride into silent oblivion.