Production Companies: Affirm Films and ODB Films
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Running Time: 106 minutes
Reviewer: Chidimma Nnagbo
Paul, Apostle of Christ is woven around Paul (James Faulkner), Luke (Jim Caviezel) who played the role of Jesus in “Passion of Christ”, Mauritius Gallas (Olivier Martinez) Prefect of Mamertine Prison and the Christians under the care of Priscilla (Joanne Whalley) and Aquila (John Lynch). It is a 2018 American biblical drama film written and directed by Andrew Hyatt and Produced by David Zelon and T.J. Berden.
Rome suffers a devastating fire outbreak and Emperor Nero pins the blame on Christians and unleashes judgment on them by torture, setting them on fire on the streets of Rome and slaughtering them on sight. As a result, all Christians go into hiding under the care of Aquila and Priscilla. Luke enters the city just when they need counsel on what next to do. They ask Luke to seek Paul’s wisdom during his visit to him in prison.
The movie is faith provoking and sad but at the same time lacks the ability to hold a viewer spellbound. Of all the accounts of Paul in the Bible, the makers of this movie chose to showcase the end of Paul’s life when he is old, weak and almost ineffective, which by the way the bible has little record of. He even whines about his bones racked with pains and his eyesight bad. The Paul in the bible was bold, influential and the most eloquent of all the apostles so portraying him the way he is portrayed seem almost dissatisfying. Luke is seen persuading Paul to pass wisdom and letters to the Christians in Rome and beyond. In reality, Paul was not someone that needed persuasion to preach the gospel. His character, even in his last days was poorly sketched.
The cinematography, lighting, and costumes are perfect but the set is flawed. An idea that Paul is in the darkest and most hideous part of Rome’s cells is given but Paul is seen in a relatively well lit and somewhat spacious cell. The movie is not as explicit as expected of a movie staged centuries ago. The only act of violence shown is a hung man being set on fire. Asides that, every other act is told, not seen. Compared to ‘Passion of Christ’, this film is modest. This limits the communication of the supposed hardship Christians in Rome are going through to a viewer. The flashbacks of Paul’s active days which should have been the highlights of the rather dull movie is so poorly staged.
Does the movie achieve its purpose? If it’s purpose is to remind Christians what Christianity is really all about in a time where everybody is ‘woke’ and fighting for one right or the other, then yes. The message of love is strongly advocated. Cassius (Alessandro Sperduti) is seen dividing the Christian refugee camp and calling for justice against Rome. After what they subjected Christians to and what they are still subjecting them to, one might think waging war against Rome and fighting for their lives would be absolutely right; but Priscilla and Aquila chose a different way. They tell him he and any other person that carries arms against the Romans would be banned because they are Christians and live a lifestyle of peace. When Luke reports to Paul the situation of things at the camp, he says ‘Let peace be with you because we live in the world but we do not wage war as the world does. Peace begins with you. Love is the only way’. Cassius breaks into the prison to release him, he still doesn’t go. Instead, he asks him of whose authority he acts because it certainly isn’t of God’s.
Paul’s discussion with Mauritius Gallas after Luke healed his daughter shows effortless preaching of the gospel and conversion to Christianity should be. After Paul preaches to him, he asks what if he doesn’t believe after everything that has happened. Paul tells him it takes just a moment and it isn’t him but Christ himself that looks down upon a person and shatters his defenses. At that moment one would realize how much God knows and loves him. He says he will pray that moment comes for him.
The scene of the afterlife shown where Paul meets all those he persecuted in an open field with dry grasses with warmth on their faces is a picture of heaven as I hope it will look. Then, a man I suppose is Jesus is seen from afar walking towards him. Perhaps this particular scene was not given much thought. Maybe it would have been better to end the movie with Paul’s execution.
Here is the official trailer: