Paul:Apostle of Christ (2018) - Review
by Bryan Mero
Over the past two months we've had three different types of Christian movies hit the theaters. Samson, I Can Only Imagine and now Paul:Apostle of Christ. I've been lucky enough to two of the three so far. If you follow my reviews, you know that I've already reviewed Samson (2018)...please read my review for my thoughts about it, I'm going to try my best not to compare it to Paul:Apostle of Christ. These are two completely different movies.
Let's get on to the story. For those of you who have studied the Bible, you know the story of Saul of Tarsus, who hunted down people who believed in "The Way" of Jesus Christ. In a miraculous story, Paul's life was completely turned around and devoted his life to Christ and spreading the Gospel. Here we find Paul at the end of his days in prison in Rome. Half of Rome has just been burnt down and Nero is blaming Christians and specifically Paul for starting the fires. Luke the physician, who traveled with Paul years before, finds a way to visit Paul in prison giving him comfort and taking down Paul’s last thoughts before his death.
So from the description above you can guess that this is not a comedy. This is a straight up drama that pushes the limit of the PG-13 rating. We get to witness some of the horrors that Christians were facing in Nero's Rome. Christians were being burnt at the stake as both examples of punishment and to light the streets. Nero's ‘circus’ was a way to kill Christians as a way of entertainment. And through all this, Christians were willing to stay in Rome so they could spread the love of Jesus' teachings and salvation. Paul, himself, was the ultimate example of this movement.
I haven't seen this level of quality of acting for a period piece in a very long time. James Faulkner as Paul and Jim Caviezel as Luke nail their performances! When they are on screen it is very natural and believable. When they are together it feels like your looking in on two best friends who have been through the shredder and back but can still laugh about it. The dialogue between Luke and Paul was great and brought a bit of humor along with it. Don't we all just want to laugh between friends? I was completely engaged.
My only complaint was from Oliver Martinez who played the Mauritius, prefect of Mamertine Prison. I really liked his portrayal of the prison leader but his accent was so heavy at times that is was tough to understand. I wanted to turn on the closed captions so I could make sure I knew what his was saying.
All the other actors were quality players and never once did anyone's performance take me out of the movie. I found myself worried for these Christians hiding underneath the nose of the Roman government. They felt like real people who had conflicting ideas of what to do. Do you stay in Rome, risk persecution, but take care of the orphans and widows. Or do you leave Rome and spread the gospel and the love of Christ to others beyond the walls of Rome. Even Paul struggles with this question.
Paul tells his story, seen on screen in a series of flashbacks, while looking at certain
execution at the hand of Nero and Mauritius, all the while giving the good news of Christ. Here is a movie about Christian faith told through struggle and persecution. It does not hit you over the head with the usual Christian tropes. This is based of the true story of Paul and his life. It is not the ending we all hope for or what Hollywood would give us. There is no big escape. There's no last minute pardon. There is only a release of peace and love from Paul that is still impacting people's lives to this very day.
Down to the bottom line...this is not an action/thriller/comedy...this is a slow moving drama. Don't expect anything more then a thought provoking, eyed opening retrospective of the world back in ancient Rome. I've seen complaints that there's a lot of talking going on. Yes, there is. Good dramas will give you poignant conversations between characters. This is most affective between Paul and Luke and makes me crave for another movie about the actual journeys that Luke and Paul had in this timeline. Those adventures of living only by the grace of God would be great to see on the big screen. Here we get only a taste...and it is good.
I would definitely recommend this to Christians and non-Christians. You may have read about Paul but until you see what he and other Christians had to live through, it may give you a better appreciation of their dedication to Christ and to loving all people.