“Paul, Apostle of Christ” (Sony)

James Faulkner stars as Paul in a scene from in the film "Paul, Apostle of Christ." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Sony Pictures)

By Catholic News Service

Bible-based drama in which St. Paul (pleasingly sonorous James Faulkner), imprisoned in Rome and facing martyrdom in the wake of that city’s Great Fire of AD 64 — which the Emperor Nero notoriously blamed on the followers of Jesus — is visited by his longtime collaborator and friend St. Luke (Jim Caviezel), to whom he recounts the circumstances of his conversion and some of the other events chronicled in the Book of Acts. This new text is meant to give encouragement to the capital’s persecuted Christians, led by husband and wife Aquila (John Lynch) and Priscilla (Joanne Whalley). But it also draws the attention of Paul’s chief jailer (Olivier Martinez), an essentially humane man vaguely attracted to the Gospel and troubled by the grave illness of his beloved daughter.

Writer-director Andrew Hyatt’s film works better as an easy and enjoyable introduction to its two central figures’ lives and works than it does considered strictly as a piece of cinema. The somewhat flawed script fleshes out the human details in a believable way, but unwisely presents famous verses and whole passages of Scripture as deriving from Paul’s spontaneous conversation. Valuable chiefly as a catechetical resource, it makes acceptable and worthwhile fare for teens.

Scenes of brutality and torture with some gore, a few gruesome images, mature references, including to prostitution. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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