Hot Take: Every faith-based Biblical tale must have bright, slow motion scenes draped in classical-stylized instrumental music and Paul, Apostle of Christ is no different. Plus, it’s confusing as hell that Jesus is now Luke.
I have to admit that I might not have paid attention to most of the first act of Paul, Apostle of Christ. My brain was struggling to process Jim Caviezel in the role of Luke in a movie where Jesus is talked about so prominently. Caviezel, you should know, was Jesus in Mel Gibson’s faith-based success The Passion of the Christ. For some reason, this casting decision didn’t sit well with me if only for the reason that it was so distracting to the actual film. It also could have been the laborious pace of the film which takes a while to get going as it covers the last days of Paul (James Faulkner) as he sits in jail falsely accused by Nero of burning down Rome. Writer/director Andrew Hyatt’s faith-based take follows similar patterns to other faith-based filmmakers and delivers a safe, surprisingly undramatic and somber telling of Paul’s final moments before his beheading at the hands of the Romans.
Overall, Paul, Apostle of Christ is adequate in its retelling of Paul’s teachings and Luke’s brave and selfless acts to capture Paul’s thoughts and bring them back to the Christian followers facing down their persecution from Emperor Nero. Visually, other than the film’s reliance on overly bright scenes whenever discussing faith and following and a propensity for slow motion, Paul, Apostle of Christ is impressive. This re-telling ends up feeling a little too small for the big screen but possibly too big to be made-for-cable. Caviezel turns in a decent performance and it’s probably only me that struggles with the fact that he previously played Jesus and now is playing a different Biblical figure who speaks of Jesus frequently. Faulkner is reserved and reflective as Paul and likely one of the more notable roles of his career. The stakes never seem that high though. Even a second act attempt to break Paul out of prison just felt as if it were as easy as going to the store to buy a loaf of bread. It attempts to develop a few too many subplots to illustrate the power of the belief in Christ but the underlying question was often when will the story get back to Paul?
If you’re one who enjoys faith-based films or at least has a tolerance level to look past the oft propagandized message of faith in these types of films, Paul, Apostle of Christ falls on the better side of this style of film. It’s one that will work almost as well on the small screen as it does on the big screen though. So, it might be worth waiting for it to reach the home market rather than running out to theaters to see. It’s repetitive, faith affirming message should be expected considering the target audience but looking past that, there’s a good story here. Although it’s easy to argue that Paul’s early tale might make more tantalizing theater than the end result of this tale that focuses on his final story.
We all need a little faith in our life, right?