Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
How important is it to be “Politically Correct”? Answer
THE NEW TOLERANCE—It’s politically correct, but does it hold danger for followers of Christ? Is love the same thing as tolerance? Answer
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
|Featuring:||James Remar … John Luther—“X-Men: First Class,” “Dexter,” “Django: Unchained”
Dean Stockwell … Dave Wilson—“Air Force One,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Star Trek”
Raoul Trujillo … Mr. Gray—“Apocalypto,” “Cowboys and Aliens,” “The New World”
Bruce Davison … Senator Donald Harrison
Fred Dalton Thompson … Dr. Charles Luther—“Law & Order,” “Die Hard 2,” “Hunt for Red October”
Natalie Grant … Monica
|Director:||Daniel Lusko—“Epicenter” (2007), “Inside the Revolution” (2009)|
“I will not be silent.”
“Persecuted” is a Christian political thriller which the critics have, not surprisingly trashed. It deals with a near future where the government is seeking to pass a “Fairness in Faith” bill which would allow the government to regulate religion, and imperil the freedom of Christians who preach that Jesus is the only way to God. Standing up against the bill is a preacher named John Luther (the name has no accidental resemblance to another Luther who defied the government) who is framed for murder because of his opposition to the bill.
In terms of the film itself, it is an average thriller. Fred Thompson does a great job, as you would expect, but his role is limited. The majority of the film centers on John Luther and his “right hand man” who betrays the church to the government for selfish reasons. The problems are primarily with a script which should have gone through further rewrite.
For one thing the heroes and villains could have worn a tee-shirt saying “I am a villain” or “I am a hero.” They are far too cliché, and the villains too annoying. Furthermore, Luther, frankly, doesn’t seem very smart. After being unconscious he awakes and runs away, but instead of calling the police when he gets a chance, he goes on the run even before he knows what has happened, and all his friends advise him to do the same.
Moreover, he apparently suffers from tunnel vision, because he simply couldn’t see the villains coming to kidnap him when there was nothing for them to hide behind. Such obvious plot holes and errors make the film a little harder to swallow, but how much the viewer will like the film depends on whether or not they believe its message, and the message is what is important.
Evangelicals, devout Catholics, and Pentecostals, as well as some other religious sects, have come under serious attack in recent years. So-called “hate crime” legislation has been proposed which would outlaw the freedom to speak out against homosexual marriage or abortion. The recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling fortunately overturned a law which fined pro-life employers for their religious convictions without due process of law (the IRS could simply impose $1000 a day fines).
The film is fiction but revolves around a government bill which would allow the government to regulate religious speech and legislate what goes on in churches, temples, and mosques. It is no surprise that Liberal media has trashed the film. One critic even asked “who is persecuting whom,” as if it is persecution to oppose the abortion pill mandate (not “pro-choice” mandate). The reaction of the media only highlights the increasing antagonism which the world is directing at Bible-believing Christians, and that there may be a time very soon when this film will become reality.
It is important to remember that Jesus said “if they hated me, they will hate you,” and that we will all face some kind of persecution in our lives. When I was younger I never imagined that the things which are going on today could or would ever happen in America, but as our forefathers once wisely said, “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” That generation may be approaching soon, and the silence of the general media (and even antagonism against us) is another reason to believe that such persecution could be real very soon.
Morally, there are some issues for Christians. The film is free from language, but violence is a plenty. Early in the film, a prostitute who is somewhat provocatively dressed pretends to have been raped. “Compromising” photos are faked with her and the unconscious Luther (but nothing too provocative). Later, she is murdered. Numerous scenes of shootings and violence are shown throughout the film, including a scene where a gun is placed to a person’s temple and shot (no squirting blood is shown, however). The violence alone constitutes the PG-13 rating, and it is deserved.
In summary, the movie offers an important political message and warning, but as an entertainer it falls back on clichés. It is a sort of spin off of “The Fugitive,” but not as well written or thought out. The ending is also cliché. I wish that the filmmakers had done further rewrites to make the script stronger, but, as is, it is an average thriller. Were the film not a Christian political thriller I have no doubt that the critics would have given it a much better reception, but this is part of the curse of Christian cinema. We are held to a higher standard both by the secular press (who will tear us apart for plot holes, such as are in this film) and by God (who expects the best from us).
I recommend the film only for its important message, but, if you are looking for entertainment, then wait until the DVD release.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…“Persecuted” is nicely acted and features a compelling story that shows what one man with faith can accomplish. …a very strong redemptive message…
—The Dove Foundation
…a good movie that’s worth seeing… a provocative political thriller from a strong Christian …top-notch acting by some familiar veterans, but it’s sometimes slow or slightly confusing in a couple places… [3/4]
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide
… a Christian-themed minister-on-the-run thriller bent on exposing the government’s insidious multifaith agenda. Straw-man cinema doesn’t get much more ludicrous than this foolish and heavy-handed drama about an uncompromising preacher who finds himself the Job-like target of various crooked politicians and corrupt religious leaders, all bent on watering down the gospel for their own wicked gains. …
—Justin Chang, Variety
…taut (if sometimes inconsistent) spiritual thriller, filled with schemes and shootouts and bad behavior. As such, it's more problematic, content-wise, than many other contemporary Christian films. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In