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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action Political Mystery Suspense Drama
1 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 18, 2014 (wide—736 theaters)
DVD: October 14, 2014
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Millennium Entertainment

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

PERSECUTION—Why and how should we pray for suffering Christians? Answer


Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
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

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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
more »
Director: Daniel Lusko—“Epicenter” (2007), “Inside the Revolution” (2009)
Producer: Indieproduction
One Media
Vocal Yokels
Distributor: Millennium Entertainment

“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.

PERSECUTION—Why and how should we pray for suffering Christians? Answer

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.

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Comments below:
Positive—I really enjoyed this film. While it is criticized for plot holes and poor filmmaking (and this one could definitely have used some spit and polish before being finished), I thought it was on par with other films of the action, chase genre. Action flicks are a dime a dozen, and many barely have enough story to connect the action scenes together. What stood out most to me in this film was that the story and topic mattered in a real world way.

There are moves in our nation for “fairness” legislation even now. It is misnamed as strategically as the novel 1984’s ministries of peace, truth, and love (war, propaganda, and torture). “Fairness” may sound good, but these laws are really a curtailment of rights. One would not be allowed to speak in media (radio, TV, newspapers, Internet, etc.) about one’s views on religion or politics without giving equal time or space to all opposing viewpoints.

This may not sound bad, but the real purpose of this is to destroy the First Amendment’s protections of free religion, speech, and press, and squash all opposition. Additionally, laws like this would not be evenly enforced. Those opposing any current regime would be slammed, while those in agreement with said regime would get a free pass.

After all, if a view agrees with those in charge, is there another view? (“net neutrality” anyone?) Be assured that persecution is coming. The Bible says it will. The legislation is already being passed to pave its way. Those who stand for righteousness will be blasted. They may slip up on their own, fall for a set up, or be felled by fabrication (or a mix of all these factors). We must be wary and alert. We must be innocent as doves and shrewd as serpents.

The film could touch off discussions on how to protect ourselves. For instance, Luther could have protected himself when asked for the picture with the guy’s “daughter,” he could have asked a bystander to shoot the picture, so it included her father. He could have kept his car doors locked and called 911, when he saw the girl acting like she was in distress.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Laura S, age 45 (USA)
Neutral—My husband and I just watched this movie, and, although the premise was interesting, the movie was lacking. The proposed bill was never fully explained. All religions will be declared equal? Okay, I got that much. Oversight into mosques? What? Did the bill give the government control of all churches in the country to dictate what could and couldn’t be taught? That was suggested, but not explained.

Equating all religions isn’t theologically correct but I don’t see how that translates to “Christian Persecution”. The priest was John’s father? Okay, I get that It’s possible. It would have been nice to know why John broke off to form his own church… but then he receives Communion? Unless he’s been to Confession, he shouldn’t have done that… since he’s no doubt missed Mass while running his own mega-church.

It would also have been nice to know why the FBI was investigating the Senator. Lots of holes… maybe it was supposed to add to the intrigue but I just found it confusing and convoluted. It could have been a very good movie. I’m sorry they missed the mark with it. It did do a good job of pointing out the hypocrisy of the people on the board.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Linda West, age 51 (USA)
Negative—This movie was very boring, and, although there is a lot of Christian dialog, the actors speaking it didn’t seem to even believe themselves. Except for Fred Thompson, the acting was really bad. Poorly written, it could have been a good movie, but it seemed fragmented and never quite got it all together. Sorry, but you can save your money on this one.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Dottie, age 60+ (USA)
Movie Critics

…“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

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