Movie Review: The Passion of the ChristQuick Plot Summary: The final days before, and including, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ depicted visually.
Rating: Cautiously Recommended (see below for details)
Suggested Ages: 18+
This is a hard film to review. I recently read a review of this movie somewhere where the reviewer basically said that "this is a movie that everyone should watch one time, and then probably never again." I tend to agree with that.
This is a high quality, well-acted, emotionally-charged production from Mel Gibson that showcases his interpretation of the final days of Jesus' life as he understands Scripture. Make no mistake about it: while there are some flashbacks to earlier events in Jesus' life, this movie primarily is about the death of Jesus. It does show that He was raised from the dead briefly at the end, but it is for just a moment. This movie is about Jesus' last week (and specifically His last few days) leading up to and including his crucifixion. And thus it is very detailed (and very VERY bloody!) as it attempts to really showcase what Christ went through.
The best way to think of this movie is: "one person's interpretation on what the events might have looked like". You can't take everything you are seeing as exactly the way it happened. In other words, you need to be careful not to ascribe the same weight to what you are seeing visually as an interpretation of sorts on the Scripture that you ascribe to the Scripture itself. This can be subtle so I do advise caution. At the same time, you do also need to remind yourself that you are NOT just watching any old film or some "story". You are watching mostly TRUE events (I say "mostly true" because there are some liberties taken) that, whether depicted 100% accurately or not, really happened when the Son of God was here on our earth. You aren't just watching a human being - you're watching a portrayal of God in the flesh - that alone puts this film in a whole other category that really even transcends being called a "movie".
This is, and I believe ought to be, a very hard film to watch for anyone - especially those that know and love Jesus. If you can just casually watch this movie and not wince at least some at what you're seeing, I'd think there was something seriously wrong with you. I know there are scenes I had to turn my eyes away - it was just too intense. The crazy thing is the actual reality of what Jesus went through was likely even worse than what you're watching.
Part of me really debated whether I could recommend this movie because I honestly don't know that the Word of God really needed the help of Mel Gibson to visualize all of this stuff. Part of me thinks that maybe God doesn't really want His Word visualized in such graphic ways - I mean sometimes I wonder if God doesn't just want His Word to stand on its own without help from movies like this. But then, on the other hand, we live in a very "visual, graphic society" and I have heard of, and can easily understand, that this movie has had a real impact on many. It seems like it has had a "net good" effect (as opposed to "net bad") and thus I've decided that God may really be using it to help reach our generation and so I cautiously recommend it, with the caveat that I could be wrong for doing so.
This movie is rated R for a very good reason, and I do not believe it appropriate for anyone under 18.
I do suggest that a few days after (or better yet, before) you watch this movie that you consider watching "The Gospel of John" 2003 film as it helps give a lot of backstory to who Jesus is and what He claimed and also covers some of the events after He rose from the dead. The punch of both films together is much greater than either of them on its own.
Reviewed by Christopher Long,