The story of two men. Luke, as friend and physician, risks his life when he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul, who is held captive in Nero’s darkest, bleakest prison cell. But Nero is determined to rid Rome of Christians, and does not flinch from executing them in the grisliest ways possible. 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.
How excited was I to find a theater in my area playing The Paul Movie on opening weekend. By Saturday afternoon I was in the house with Wakanda level excitement. Though it is probably not going to be a hit with a general audience, the Shine TYC tribe will enjoy it.
I was pleased to see Jim Caviezel playing the brilliant young physician, Luke. You remember Jim? He played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and John Reese on Person of Interest. Though the movie is about Paul and his contribution to The Church, we come to understand quite a bit about his young friend, Luke, as well. Paul is convincingly played by James Faulkner from Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. Though he is in prison the entire time, his personality is fleshed out very well in his interactions with the prefect of the prison, Mauritius, played by Olivier Martinez famous for…well, marrying Halle Berry and Yves St. Laurent ads.
Most Christians know that Saul had a “Damascus experience” and later became Paul, Apostle of Christ. Shout out to director, Andrew Hyatt, for not predictably opening with this. We catch Paul at the end of his race. The movie is not evangelical in nature. This story tells of the persecution of Christians in Nero’s Rome and the heart wrenching decision of Aquila and Priscilla to flee Rome or stay to help the people. It shows the true nature of a flawed human faith with doubt and frustration arising in some of the believers along the way, not uncommon to modern Christians who want to take life matters into their own hands because waiting on God can take too long.
The foundation of the movie is scripture with creative context around it e.g., the Mauritius character. Some of the conversations were a little modern and threw me out of the story momentarily. Hearing Paul and Luke joke with each other in modern English reminded me that they were James and Jim, but I was quickly recaptured once their banter was over. The first twenty minutes or so the story was a little slow and it was dominated by cinematography that showed the horrors of Nero’s Rome. It picked once the tone was established.
You’ll hear many New Testament references that make you smile (if you’re a Bible nerd like me). I saw some people in the theater pulling out their Bible apps as reference checks I guess. All in all, this story of Paul’s last days gives us true insight into what it means to be a Christian, the sacrifice that the early church had to endure, and the power of having principled belief in Christ. After all, that’s what Paul was trying to tell the New Testament churches in his letters so it is only fitting the movie do the same for us.