Paul, Apostle of Christ, rated PG-13
Paul, Apostle of Christ is a well-made and acted film which addresses the early Christian’s response to life-threatening persecution, something believers in certain parts of the world face today. The film is dedicated to those who have been persecuted for their faith. The movie from Affirm Films (All Saints, Risen, War Room) is directed by Andrew Hyatt (Full of Grace). It is written by Hyatt and Terence Berden and features a solid cast. The movie was beautifully filmed in Malta. Unfortunately, the film moves very slowly and includes a fictional side-story that takes a good deal of time that could have been used to deal with Paul’s story.
The film opens in A.D. 67 in Rome. The emperor Nero has been killing Christians, blaming them for setting the fire in A.D. 64 that burned much of the city. The Roman church, led by Aquila, played by John Lynch, and Priscilla, played by Joanne Whaley, is in hiding, trying to decide on whether to retaliate, leave Rome, or remain in the city and minister. Cassius, played by Alessandro Sperduti, is the one who most wants to retaliate against the Romans.
It is near the end of the life of the Apostle Paul, who is played by James Faulkner (Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones). Paul is being held in the Mamertine Prison, facing execution. Paul’s friend Luke, played by Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest), is able to secretly gain entrance to Paul’s prison cell to visit him.
Over the course of many visits, Paul tells Luke about his missionary journeys. The resulting documents would become Luke’s second New Testament book, Acts. The film uses brief flashbacks to tell part of Paul’s story, including his persecution of believers and his conversion experience on the Damascus Road. Much of the film is shot darkly, as it takes place in Paul’s underground prison cell.
While Luke is writing down what Paul tells him, he is noticed by Maurius Gallas, the head of the Roman prison, played by Olivier Martinez. As a result, he imprisons Luke. We see Paul developing a relationship with Mauritius, sharing God’s love and goodness.
The film spends a good amount of time on a fictional side-story about Mauritius’ daughter who is gravely ill. Rather than choosing to use the film’s time on that, I would have preferred longer flashbacks as Paul recounted his stories to Luke. That part of the film could have been set up like a two-man stage play.
The film’s musical score, though used only occasionally, was effective. The movie was beautifully filmed using the Malta landscape, and featured good costume design. Viewers will recognize parts of the dialogue between Paul and Luke as popular texts from Scripture.
Content issues include depictions of violence against Christians. Themes include persecution, faith, hope, love, and encouragement.
Paul, Apostle of Christ is a well-made film primarily about Luke and Paul, two men who wrote much of the New Testament of the Bible (one estimate has Luke writing 27% and Paul 23%). The film is well-acted, primarily by James Faulkner as Paul, Jim Caviezel as Luke, and Maurius Gallas, played by Olivier Martinez, but unfortunately spent too much time on a fictional story and moved at a very slow pace.