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Persecuted depicts evangelist John Luther as the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform. When a Senator frames Luther for the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. An evangelist turned fugitive, Luther's mission brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.
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***Do NOT read if you do not want to know the plot! ***
Let me explain my position. I am a Christian who is more than willing to overlook the acting ability, characters, filming techniques, etc. Those things require money, which is not always easy to come by. What I am particular about is the message since that's the most important part of a film, and it costs almost nothing to create. This review is intended for likeminded individuals who have heard about this film and are curious to know whether it's worth purchasing or not.
The first element to note is that the main character, John Luther, is a Catholic. The reason why I bring this up is because it's a strong element to the plot, and also because it's not readily apparent in the trailer. Although the film portrays him as a Billy Graham-type character (a successful, influential Christian leader of a multi-national, religious organization), he is actually a devout Catholic, which is demonstrated later in the movie. In some scenes, Luther is seen holding a rosary to demonstrate his faithfulness while under stress. He also relies on the help of Catholic priests throughout the entire movie, so it's not a minor part of the film. In fact, all of the central good characters are Catholics. I don't recall seeing one Protestant, good or bad, in the movie. Also, the irony is not missed that the producers chose the name "Luther" for the main character who happens to be a devout Catholic.
The second element is the lack of spirituality in the film. There is little mention of the gospel or how Christians can rely on God as their anchor during times of persecution. Yes, there is one scene where he prays, but the rest of the film is about him trying to clear his name by relying on his abilities and the Catholic Church's resources. The film doesn't try to deal with how Christians should respond when persecution arises. Also, it never clearly addresses where God fits in when persecution comes. If you are looking for a film that attempts to answer such questions or deal with spiritual truths, then this film is not for you.
The third element is the portrayal of persecution. The message that the producers wanted to present is that religious freedom can be easily curtailed in the USA. This is true, and it's good that the producers wished to bring that to light; however, in a time when religious freedom is actually being curtailed in the United States, there are many other ways that they could have done it. Instead, the film depicts the story of a devout Catholic who manages to outsmart the government. This type of representation trivializes real persecution since it makes it appear almost trite; moreover, the film seems to indicate that religious persecution can be overcome with physical methods. This becomes more apparent when Luther obtains a gun. Although he doesn't freely use it, he sneaks around and reveals it to get what he wants. Such scenes are standard in today's action films, but it doesn't accurately depict what persecution is or would look like in the United States. As another reviewer noted, this film can be accurately described as The Fugitive with religious elements.
Sadly, I feel that the movie doesn't convey what it set out to do. I would support the movie if it tried to show that religious persecution against Christians is real or can come to North America; however, this was not done at all. The actual message in the movie is that there is religious persecution against Catholics and that the Catholic Church needs to band together to defeat the threat of over-reaching government. I personally think that the producers were torn between creating a movie with a message and an entertaining action film. In the end, the focus was on the action. If you are looking for a movie where the focus is on persecuted Christians, Jesus, or the Gospel, then I suggest that you look elsewhere since this movie doesn't adequately cover those subjects.
I'm giving this film 1 out of 5 stars because of the points mentioned above. With that said, it does talk about the threat of religious persecution in the United States and can be used to discuss real examples of persecution occurring here today. Other than that, it's a straight-up Hollywood action movie.
This is quite possibly the worse movie I have ever seen. It IS the worst supposedly "Christian" themed movie I have ever seen. I wish I could give it 0 stars. I am puzzled by how 45% of the past reviewers could give it 5 stars! Apparently, we didn't see the same movie!
(1) The plot and point of the movie are NOT clear. You can read between the lines and get the gist, but it is not laid out in any kind of logical and clear way. There is no real explanation of the Fairness bill that the bad guy senator is trying to pass. Yes, it is a bill that supposedly makes it more difficult for "Christians" to speak the "truth" under the guise of making it more "fair" for all religions. But there is no explanation of what the bill exactly says, does, the point of it, etc. Since the bill is the reason for everything going on, I think they needed to include discussions about it adequate to really explain it. Even when you FINALLY do find out WHY "they" supposedly wanted to pass the bill, the reason doesn't really make any sense either! I guess their point of trying to make a political thriller was to keep you guessing until the end... well, they did accomplish that as you may very well remain clueless about the whole movie until the very end... and even then you aren't really sure! The ending was abrupt, confusing, and left it somewhat hanging.
(2) The movie does not progress smoothly. It is slow moving is many scenes, then switches to a new scene with no clarity of where you now are or why and you are left trying to figure out who the characters are in the new scene. There are no clear introductions for most characters, except for a few such as the senator. It doesn't help that many scenes are rather dark (as in, not adequately lit). Basically, you have to figure out each scene AFTER the fact... sometimes long after the fact.
(3) There is NO true Christianity expressed in the film AT ALL. As a Bible-believing Christian, I cringe every time I see a movie that is supposed to be Christian-themed but is replete with doctrinal errors and unflattering, inaccurate portrayals (which basically is almost EVERY supposedly "Christian" movie released to the big screen, with only a few exceptions such as Fireproof, etc.). The main character appears to be a non-denominational televangelist of unclear beliefs. Why is there a stand-up comic preceding him at his meetings? Why is the stand-up comic making fun of the televangelist's sin-stained past? No one in their right mind would do that. This made NO sense at all. Yes, anyone can be saved by Grace and have their sins forgiven and removed "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12), but the Bible makes it clear that there are certain qualifications for a person to be a pastor or even teacher and I'm not really sure this guy would qualify for either. It's hard to know because they only clearly referred to one failing, but made a big deal about him having a "past" so one wonders what else had been going on in his life. Anyway, then you find out his "dad" is what appears to be a Catholic priest, but that doesn't make sense obviously (Catholic celibacy!), so maybe he really was an Episcopal or Lutheran, but I'm not sure either of those use a rosary as they showed in the movie. So one wonders what "brand" of Christianity the main character supposedly espouses!
This COULD have been a good movie - but would have to be totally rewritten in order to be so! It is a topic that is timely and if done WELL could make people think. But Persecuted fails utterly on all counts. It was 91 minutes of my life I will never get back, and now another half hour or so writing this review! Please don't waste your time or money on this movie!