By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
During the reign of Emperor Nero, Christians were persecuted in large numbers, particularly following a massive fire that ravaged the city. Nero blamed the fire on the Christians, and used it as an excuse to re-direct the Roman people’s outrage. Paul the Apostle, seen as a leader among the Christian community, is jailed and sentenced to death, awaiting the word of his final execution order. Meanwhile Luke the Evangelist has returned to the city after a long trip and visits Paul in prison to write down his words for posterity. It appears in a little-known obscure book that you probably haven’t heard of…
With the small $5,000,000.00 budget, it is impressive how well the period costumes and sets are presented; yes at times it is obvious the shooting took place at ruins rather than the then fresh and bustling Rome, but they tried, that’s the main gist of it. Also, the principle cast including Jim Caviezel and James Faulkner are more than up to the task of depicting these historical/Biblical figures.
Unfortunately, whereas the film is visually quite attractive, it lacks what it needs under the hood; a decent and coherent script. The film begins with a somewhat tense sequence of Luke sneaking past Roman sentries. Following this the film flounders, focusing instead on conversation after conversation where you are told so much and see little. A film depiction of the life of Paul and/or Luke should have spent more time opening up and showing you what they witnessed, otherwise it feels more like a sermon and less like cinema.
Get used to seeing these guys talking…
The film’s appeal to dramatic convention flows through a relationship Paul develops with the Prefect of the prison in which he is interred. Some of the film’s more interesting scenes show Paul conversing with the Prefect, who slowly comes around to a more liberal viewpoint, hinting at a possible future conversion. But the movie never commits to resolving this storyline in any real way, and it feels like a wasted plot thread as a result.
Also, this guy’s thick French accent is distracting… not that he can help it I guess?
Rarely have I seen a film try so hard to avoid an R-Rating, and yet be comfortable with showing gallons of fake blood. Every act of violence is depicted off camera or cut away from awkwardly, but goddamn will they show you the bloody aftermath, or the spray. I wonder if there is a hard R version of this somewhere… at least maybe that might be more interesting.
Paul, Apostle of Christ has solid production design, purposeful performances, but dull and plodding pacing which rendered all of those efforts for naught. I sat in the theater in Catholic Chicagoland and like at a Sunday Service; the audience sat and waited bored out of their minds. Snores and hyperactive children sounded out louder than the sermon, but at the end as the credits rolled, everyone arose from their seats and applauded dutifully.
Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Christ or Nero are mentioned
Take a Drink: for flashbacks
Do a Shot: for gallons and gallons of fake blood
Do a Shot: when Paul is called Saul