Risking his life, Luke ventures to Rome to visit Paul – the apostle who’s bound in chains and held captive in Nero’s darkest and bleakest prison cell. Haunted by the shadows of his past misdeeds, Paul wonders if he’s been forgotten as he awaits his grisly execution. Before Paul’s death, Luke resolves to write another book that details the birth of what will come to be known as the church.
So I have spent the better part of my adult life involved in religious studies and religious education. To say I am your typical right wing conservative Christian would be a terrible miscast of me. I consider myself a progressive, reformed, grace oriented kinda of guy. In other words a believer in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, but NONE of the religious trappings that go along with the big three…
That being said I also usually have a jaded view of religious films because my experience is that they usually lack production value and quality writing. Mel Gibson’s The Passion the exception. Paul is a step ( a small step) forward in a positive direction. 2016’s Risen was also a step in the right direction even though the story was ludicrous (see my review here). The downsides of this film are the set design and cinematography. The sets seemed more like a tv show than a movie and this was probably the result of budgetary restrictions. Movies are expensive. Never the less the camera tended to go out of focus at times and this almost became a distraction, but I was able to get through it.
The popular trend with today’s biopics are to take a snapshot of a persons life and show you in depth who they are. Paul takes the same approach looking at the last days of the Apostle. The highlight of the film for me was the performance of British actor James Faulkner (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey). He brings a presence to the role that lent to the gravity of what Paul was trying to do in forming the early church. Jim Caviezel (The Passion, Frequency) takes a turn as Luke, the Physician and gives a solid performance in the role.
The whole subject matter of Paul centers around faith. The movie takes place in a time when Nero is at his absolute worse and Christians are dying left and right. The movie does a good job of showing the perseverance of the early church in the midst of this great persecution. Many of the lines of Paul in the movie are direct quotes from his letters in the New Testament, giving them an organic feel as they might have been created, versus someone just sitting down and writing these letters out. That was an interesting take and refreshing for me.
If you are into Ancient Rome, Early Christianity, or fans of the cast Paul, Apostle of Christ is worth going to see at the theaters.
3 1/2 stars out of 5