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Stories of faith tend to be a little complex, or so you’d think…
Paul, Apostle of Christ is the latest from the AFFIRM Films label and it isn’t a bad film by any stretch but these faith based films suffer under the weight of just being a little perfunctory at times. Sure we get a compelling story but they don’t bring a lot more to the table then you’d actually expect.
Paul (James Faulkner) who goes from the most infamous persecutor of Christian’s to one of Christ’s most devout and influential apostles is spending his last days in a cold, dark and bleak prison cell waiting to be executed by Emperor Nero. Luke (Jim Caviezel) his friend and physician risks his life when he ventures into Rome to visit him as Paul is under the watchful eye of Mauritius (Oliver Martinez) the prison’s prefect who seeks to understand why this broken old man poses to be such a threat. However, before Paul’s death sentence can be carried out, Luke is determined to write one more book, one that details the beginning of “The Way” that begins to lay out the foundation of what they’ll come to know as their church because while faith may have challenged an empire, it was simple words that changed the entire world.
There’s nothing wrong with telling stories like this, even though they have been done to death in varying degrees the ultimate problem with Paul, Apostle of Christ is that they just aren’t bringing anything terribly new to the table, and that’s not a good or a bad thing…it just is.
From writer/director Andrew Hyatt, there’s obvious skill in the storytelling as everything about the film is very well staged but you can’t shake an overwhelming sense of banality to it as well. There’s nothing wrong with it as it tells the story of Paul and it conveys a very solid moral message which is as clear as day, however there’s nothing all that right with it either. It plays out a little too predictably and it should have more urgency to it than it actually does hitting beats like it’s a TV movie of the week rather than an effort at telling something on the big screen. The early stages of Christianity feels like it should have more on the line then it does in this steady yet hardly thrilling effort, more drama would have been a good thing.
Jim Caviezel takes on yet another faith based role…and is fine in it, but it’s getting pretty boring as well. James Faulkner does manage some genuine fire as the apostle Paul but there’s only so much he can do with a milk toast cast and bland writing around him while Olivier Martinez is just really drab and uninspired as the prison prefect.
Picture and sound quality on the BD are solid and the special features include four behind the scenes featurettes and some deleted scenes.
Ultimately, it’s nice to have a take on the later stages of Paul’s life told here in Paul, Apostle of Christ but movies like this really come down to either thriving or dying on their internal execution. This film does enough to not be a hokey mess of a faith based story but only barely and actually could have deserved a little more pedigree behind telling this story, no matter what your belief system is.