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The movie is sprawling and thorough in depicting the major themes of the conflict, especially the recruitment of retired general Enrique Gorostieta, who led the ragtag rebel armies as a nonbeliever who nevertheless was drawn to guide the Cristeros out of a deeply held belief in liberty and human rights. Andy Garcia plays Gorostieta with considerable fervor and a welcomed sense of gravitas. He is a commanding presence throughout a film that hews to a very traditional formal style. Entirely character-driven individual scenes are juxtaposed with sweeping battle sequences, lending an almost biblical-epic feel to the movie as a whole without dragging it down or allowing it to wallow in the preachy.
A roguish young boy named José (Mauricio Kuri) becomes committed and ultimately martyred to the cause after witnessing the slaughter of his parish priest (an odd cameo by Peter O'Toole). He also plays foil to General Gorostieta as the two develop a deep father-son bond that stands as a metaphor for the larger issues dividing the Cristeros and the Mexican government. The cast is quite large, and it's sometimes difficult to keep the undercurrents of plot in focus with multiple stories being told on a personal level. Fortunately the grand scale is such that For Greater Glory really does come across as a glorious endeavor in both moviemaking skill and storytelling expertise. -Ted Fry