Directed By: Andrew Hyatt
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Olivier Martinez, James Faulkner
Paul, Apostle of Christ is the story of Paul, the man who went from persecutor of the church to its most powerful and important proponent. Paul suffers alone in a Roman prison, awaiting his execution under Emperor Nero. Maurtitius, the ambitious prison prefect, can hardly see what threat this broken man poses. Once he was Saul of Tarsus, the high-ranking and brutal killer of Christians. Now his faith rattles Rome. At great risk, Luke the Physician visits the aged Paul to comfort and tend to him – and to question, to transcribe and to smuggle out Paul’s letters to the growing community of believers. Amid Nero’s persecution, these men and women will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and change the world.
While this movie is receiving rave reviews from many inside the church, I must admit for me, Paul, Apostle of Christ, is disappointing. Historically, the movie seems for the most part, accurate. Under Nero’s leadership, half of Rome burned to the ground. It was a turbulent time for all Roman citizens. It is also no secret, Christian’s under Nero’s reign were persecuted. From a Biblical standpoint, again, Paul, Apostle of Christ, seems for the most part accurate. Scriptures are quoted correctly and the story of Paul, as found not only in the Book of Acts, but also in Luke, and Paul’s own Epistles, holds firm. For those familiar with the Bible, the storyline holds true. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, the storyline will educate. From a pure production standpoint, the movie holds its own as well. The Christian movie industry has come a long way in the area of production. What use to be laughable when comparing to mainstream movies, production standards have improved. As a result, Paul, Apostle of Christ, stacks up nicely alongside other movies in the marketplace. Last, but certainly not least, the portrayal of Luke by Jim Caviezel is outstanding. Caviezel brings a quality of acting to this movie which would have been lacking if not for his presence. The other characters in the movie, including James Faulkner’s portrayal of Paul, fall flat. While at times the acting style of Caviezel makes Luke feel a little like John Reese from the TV series Person of Interest, I will give him a pass on that, as for the most part, many of his characters are quite sombre and serious.
After listing what I liked about the movie, one might ask – Why was Paul, Apostle of Christ, disappointing?
First and foremost, clocking in at 1 hour and 46 minutes, the movie is very slow. In what should have been a captivating, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat type movie, I found myself often bored. Not only does the movie slow to a snails pace at times, the dialogue seems poor. I feel like in an effort to cover up poor dialogue, the producers made everything almost a whisper. When watching a movie, there’s nothing worse than having to work in order to hear what’s going on. While the producers don’t bury the dialogue under unwanted music, they do bury the dialogue in whispers and background noise. However, even though it’s hard to hear what the actors are saying, this is by no means the most disappointing aspect of the movie. For me, the most disappointing aspect revolves around the fact that Paul is portrayed as a wimp who seems more defeated than victorious in the assurance of his salvation in Christ. At times a glimmer of hope for Paul shines through in his words of loving those who persecute you. But, for the most part, he seems a defeated and broken man looking more forward to death, than life after death. The final disappointing aspect of Paul, Apostle of Christ comes with the portrayal of Luke. While Caviezel does well, the character of Luke seems at times weak as well. At one point Luke seems to question his faith! Again, this is simply not the Luke I know found in the Scriptures. Luke – the author of Luke, Acts – was a defender of the faith, unwavering in his love and passion to capture those early days of Christianity in writing. Sadly, like with many movies, just because it says “Based on a True Story”, we must always remember that means “loosely based”.
Not Family-Friendly – 2 out of 5 Lloyd Rating
With a PG-13 rating, Paul, Apostle of Christ is far from family-friendly. In the future I have a feeling many churches and Christians will gather all their friends and family to watch this movie. But, this is simply not a movie for kids. In an attempt to jar the viewer with shock and awe, the producers go overboard with graphic scenes of burning Christians like Roman candles. While factually true of the time, if the producers were looking to expand an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus as told through Paul the Apostle, they will fail simply because of the graphic content. It’s one thing to talk about what was going on historically in the movie, it’s quite another to feel the need to keep showing it on screen. This movie is dark, graphic and disturbing at times. Therefore, it is firmly in the Not Family-Friendly category. Some scenes in this movie would outrage believers watching a mainstream movie. As a matter of fact, some scenes contained in this movie reminded me of ones from Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter! Just as those movies caused an outcry in the body of Christ, such scenes in Paul, Apostle of Christ should do the same. We should not wink at the violence, simply because it’s in a Biblical movie.
Cautiously view the show!