Directed by Andrew Hyatt
Starring – Jim Caviezel, James Faulkner, Joanne Whalley
The Plot – The story of two men, Luke (Caviezel), as a friend and physician, risks his life every time he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul (Faulkner), who is held captive in Nero’s darkest, bleakest prison cell. Before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church. But Nero is determined to rid Rome of Christians, and does not flinch from executing them in the grisliest ways possible. Bound in chains, Paul’s struggle is internal. He has survived so much; floggings, shipwreck, starvation, stoning, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure; yet as he waits for his appointment with death, he is haunted by the shadows of his past misdeeds. Alone in the dark, he wonders if he has been forgotten, and if he has the strength to finish well. Two men struggle against a determined emperor and the frailties of the human spirit in order to bequeath the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Rated PG-13 for some violent content and disturbing images
– Religious films continue the momentum of earning themselves a valuable budget to spend on luxurious backdrops and authentic wardrobe displays. With more persistent success at the box office, this genre of films will only continue making the immersion into these stories that much easier.
– At its core, this is a strong character piece for Paul, and should’ve been used just for that. Far too often, too much unrelated exposition takes away from us translating the map of the world that he depicts on his face. I felt that these rare occasions in getting close to the character certainly made it a synch in understanding why he views Christ as his spiritual and life awakening.
– Committed performances that never crack or break under the pressure of the dependency of this screenplay. Caviezel’s Luke is stoic, Andre Agius’s Stephen is calculating, but it’s in the work of Faulkner as the title character that defines what it means to get lost in a role. As far as protagonists go, he doesn’t come across as preachy, instead settling for the effects of an iron will to get across his sermon.
– Never manipulative, but plenty inspiring. There’s certainly a message of standing for your faith over persecution, in ‘Paul’, but it never feels insulting or contradictory to any audience watching it at home. Because of this, I have to appreciate films like this that separate themselves from the Kirk Cameron’s and ‘God’s Not Dead’s’ of the world.
– Inconsistent lighting palates. One of my favorite things to pay attention to in films that take place before the dawn of electricity is how the lighting scheme works in every scene, and much of the use of candles during the nighttime sequences here feels far too bright without much shadow work accompanying them. Natural lighting should always be the decision for these kind of movies.
– This is definitely a film that feels ravaged by its rating. It amazes me that many religious films still don’t understand or grasp how R-rated the bible was, and as a result, the requirement to use your imagination in this film constantly exceeds the rewards in rare visuals that we receive.
– For my money, the most entertaining and informative parts of the film seem to happen off screen. There are no shortage of flashback sequences, so it’s my opinion that this is a three hour film that is trying so desperately to come across at 100 minutes. In doing so, much of the understanding of the conflict between the Romans and Catholics feels lost in translation, leading to……..
– An overall weak dramatic pull. Because much of the film involves a tell-and-not-show routine, its reach for a third act impact before the closing credits is one that comes and goes without much emotional impact on us. If a film doesn’t move you, it’s a reflection that it never attained the success of luring you into its conflicts.
– How is Nero not a presence in this film? Considering so much of the screenplay revolves around his actions and feelings towards the Catholics, the decision to make him a shadow figure in the ivory tower is one that comes across as a missed opportunity in crafting an ideal antagonist to rival the overabundance of protagonists that adorn the film.
– So much of the second half of this film drowns on because of nothing of physicality to accompany its overflowing dialogue. This would usually be where a war scene goes, but because the material is so stripped of anything confrontational, we play the listening game in waiting for something rumbling that never comes.