The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Paul, Apostle of Christ

In a time when faith-based films like I Can Only Imagine, Miracles From Heaven, and The Case for Christ have worked hard to be contemporary, it's a little odd to see a traditional Biblical epic like Paul, Apostle of Christ. Admittedly, viewers who want something old-fashioned will probably be satisfied. The feeling that the movie is somewhat out of step with where the genre is currently at, though, is pervasive. It seems more antiquated than relevant from a filmmaking perspective.

The story takes place in Rome, 67 A.D. Much of the city has been destroyed by fire, which the emperor Nero blames on Jesus Christ's followers. He even has the apostle Paul (James Faulkner) imprisoned. With many of Rome's Christians oppressed by Nero and unable to decide between attempting escape or fighting from within, Luke (Jim Caviezel) is dispatched to sneak into the prison and gain any insight he may have.

Paul, Apostle of Christ is a handsomely-mounted production with good performances and minimal dramatic tension. Writer/director Andrew Hyatt relies on long, talky scenes in which every line of dialogue sounds like a grand proclamation. That has the effect of radically slowing down the pace. Given that so many intense things are going on, including Romans setting fire to Christians, this story needs to be told with more snap. Such an approach would have provided the urgency that it deserves.

Hyatt also bounces around quite a bit, making it occasionally difficult to follow what's going on and detracting from the power of Paul's arc. In addition to the plot thread involving Paul and Luke, there's a supporting story about Aquila (John Lynch) and Priscilla (Joanne Whalley) leading the debate among their fellow Christians, as well as intermittent flashbacks to Paul's work prior to being imprisoned. At times, the jump from one section to the next feels random rather than organic, so the flow is broken.

There's one more thread, this one involving Paul's jailer, Maruitius (Olivier Martinez, playing the only Roman with a French accent). He has a seriously ill daughter and is frustrated that his offerings to the gods have failed to heal her. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the most potent section of Paul, Apostle of Christ. In an especially compelling scene, it's pointed out that Luke is a skilled physician and could therefore potentially help his child. Maruitius refuses, saying that he would never offend the gods by letting a Christian into his home. The manner in which this subplot plays out allows the film to deliver the requisite, yet undeniably meaningful message about the beauty of Christ's love.

Caviezel, Martinez, and Faulkner all give impassioned performances, and the movie's sets and visuals are commendable. The problem is the pacing. Paul, Apostle of Christ feels like it time-warped in from another decade. A retro vibe isn't automatically a bad thing, except that in this case it serves to bog down the life-and-death events being portrayed. Despite some fine elements, the film never hits the right speed to fully give this subject its proper due.

( out of four)

Paul, Apostle of Christ is rated PG-13 for some violent content and disturbing images. The running time is 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.