Persecuted is one of the worst “faith-based” films that I have ever seen, only because it is so desperate to convince the world that all liberals are evil conspirators, while all Christians are spotless saints who would never harm a fly. It has an obvious agenda, but isn’t quite smart enough to successfully execute it. In short, I’m convinced that this film was written by a pre-teen at Vacation Bible School on construction paper with a box of crayons.
The film portends some ominous and nationwide epidemic of Christian persecution, but ends up a dull and lifeless affair with nothing of real value to say – much like the good old American Christians who have the audacity to pull the “persecution card” whenever things don’t go their way – people who obviously have little regard for the very real threat of Christian persecution in other parts of the world.
Persecuted tells the convoluted tale of a successful evangelical pastor named John Luther, who finds himself at the mercy of the progressive Christian movement, the government, and other various left-wingers when he opposes a bill called the “Faith and Fairness Act”, which would allow people of different faiths to get equal time at the pulpit. Horrified by the fact that he may have to expand his narrow mind, Luther continues to deny the bill at every turn…and since this movie is appropriately titled Persecuted, you should know what’s going to happen next.
Poor, put upon Luther is framed for the murder of an innocent girl and the world turns against him. He flees the scene of the crime, cuts and bruises all over his body, and attempts to find refuge at hotels and gas stations. Meanwhile, his right hand man in the ministry (played by none other than the incredibly annoying Brad Stine, in an incredibly annoying performance) stabs him in the back and tries to move in on his wife.
And then the President gets involved – played by an actor who looks exactly like Bill Clinton – at which point this thing turns into an even bigger, uglier, dumber mess. Persecuted has only one audience in mind, is only interested in preaching to the choir, and as a result, it is utterly useless. I’m still not sure how James Remar, Bruce Davison, Fred Dalton Thompson and Dean Stockwell got roped into this mess. None of them really put any effort into their performances, and at times, it’s almost as if they know how bad this material is and so they ham it up whenever the opportunity arises.
As of today, Persecuted has earned a whopping 0% on the Tomato-meter at RottenTomatoes.com, and this film failed miserably at the box office – further proof that critics and audiences are often smarter than the “faith-based” community thinks that they are. Thankfully, the intended audience didn’t turn out for this one, and so hopefully, there won’t be another one like it anytime soon. If we’re going to do the whole “faith-based film” thing, let’s do it like Steve Taylor’s Blue Like Jazz, which was an intelligent film that spoke to a wider audience.
Millenium will release Persecuted on Blu-ray in December. The transfer is gorgeous – but as the old saying goes, “You can polish a turd, but it’s still a turd.”
Avoid at all costs.
Directed by Daniel Lusko.