‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’: Critics Hate It, the People Love It

James Faulkner in Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018, Affirm Films)
Affirm Films

Those critics who bothered, or who were given an opportunity to review the latest faith-based movie Paul, Apostle of Christ, dumped all over it at a 75 percent rate; the audience score, however, is a healthy 93 percent approval, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Opening wide in 1,473 theaters this weekend, Paul, the Apostle of Christ stars Jim Caviezel and tells the story of Saint Paul (James Faulkner) who, as Saul of Tarsus, was a fierce persecutor and murderer of Christians. After his famous conversion (31 – 36 AD) on the Road to Damascus, Saul became Paul and, filled with the Holy Ghost, became one of the most important figures in early Christianity. Fourteen of the 27 books in the New Testament are attributed to Paul. He was martyred in Rome sometime between 64-68 AD.

Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 record-breaking blockbuster The Passion of the Christ, plays Saint Luke here, a companion of Paul’s who is believed to have written one of the four Gospels (The Gospel of Luke), which tells the story of Christ’s time here on earth. Many scholars believe that whoever wrote The Gospel of Luke also wrote Acts of the Apostles.

Luke is not written as a personal eyewitness account, Acts is.

Of the 20 critics who reviewed Paul, Apostle of Christ, 15 gave it a negative review, which means it has a 25 percent rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite its wide release, the success of The Passion, and last week’s shocking success of I Can Only Imagine — a $7 million faith-based film that has already earned $23 million and currently the second most popular movie in America (beating even Tomb Raider, which was released on the same weekend) — the far-left Los Angeles Times found Paul worthy of only a four-paragraph review that writes the movie off as “ponderous” and snarks at Caviezel as a “suitably serious, Bible-flick-ready actor.”

Over at the left-wing Variety, the negative review can best be described as a oh-so-Woke non sequitur that finds the Crusades relevant, even though the Crusades came hundreds of years after Paul’s martyrdom:

Like its namesake, “Paul, Apostle of Christ” is dedicated to “all who have been persecuted for their faith,” though nothing about the film suggests tolerance of religions other than Christianity. As a final assignment in a college medieval history course, my fellow students and I were expected to write a 10-page essay summarizing the entire semester from a single prompt: “In the long run, who won, the Christians or the Romans?” This film depicts circumstances as they were in 67 A.D., but after Constantine converted to Christianity in the early 4th century, the persecuted became the powerful, and the church went on to sanction the execution of heretics, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and so on.

The Wrap’s review also brings some Woke into it. “Naturally, no sticking points about Paul’s legacy, like his (disputed) rejection of female church leaders, make it into Hyatt’s script,” the reviewer complains … naturally.

Nevertheless, of the 287 audience members who rated the movie on Rotten Tomatoes, a full 93 percent said they “liked it.” The movie held some sneak previews Thursday night.

As of now, Paul, the Apostle of Christ, is predicted to open to $4.3 million.

As we head into Easter (April 1), a third faith-based title opens next weekend, the third entry in the popular God’s Not Dead series — God’s Not Dead: A Light In Darkness, which lands in 1,500 theaters.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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