"Romero" is an ambitious film with noble intentions, but it somehow lacks the conviction and passion of its central character, despite a fine performance from Raul Julia and the fact that it is based on a true story.
Julia plays the title character, Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980. Yet, despite our already knowing the ultimate outcome, "Romero" is inherently interesting because, as played by Julia, he is a man who undergoes a dramatic change.
When we first meet him, in 1977, the priest is a mild-mannered, introspective bookworm who can be counted on to back down when faced with a possible confrontation with the corrupt Salvadoran government.
Thus he is chosen to be archbishop, a calculated move by the Catholic hierarchy, which is afraid of any controversy. But once he begins witnessing firsthand the atrocities his people are subjected to, Romero surprises everyone by becoming something of a dissident.
There are some stirring moments along the way, but some of the performances are weak and certain scenes are contrived or overly simplistic, making the overall effect rather flat. But if the sum of the parts isn't compelling, certainly some of the parts are.
"Romero" is rated PG-13 for violence, but it's not the same kind of violence as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" or "Batman." I would have given this one a PG.