As a movie, this basically fails. It's ridiculously violent religious torture porn that willl seem pointless to those not into or familair with Christianity. In the right context though this film isn't too bad. It's not a materpiece, but as an "experience" it is a success.
I think it is overrated, even though it is powerful. Like I mentioned though, this is for a limited audience. It could be used as a conversion tool, but I don't know how effective or convincing it would be, as this movie isn't innocent of charges of brutality and anti-semitism.
I do have a lot of respect for this though, mainly because it strives to show just how horrible and excruciating crucifixion is, and because they had the balls to have the whole thing be in Aramaic and Latin. That's just awesome, and deserves lots of kudos. It's also pretty realsitic in terms of physical, historical, and religious accuracy. It's not completely perfect in those regards, but it's not a work of total fiction and fantasy either.
Caviezel has a tough role here, and he does a good job. It's not just screaming either. He's great at radiating personality, kindness, and turmoil. The other performances are also pretty good, but this is basically a one-person show.
The camera work is really good, the locations and sets are terrific, and the effects are just outstanding. I'm amazed that Tom Savini didn't work on this, that's how realistic and effective the make up and gore is.
Over the years I've gotten desensitized to brutality and gore, and have increased my tolerance for it, and, even though I was able to watch this without getting dizzy or faint, I'm not gonna lie and say that it didn't give me a headache or that I wasn't biting my lip at times. In context, this is basically the most violent film I've ever seen. Mainly due to the realism and emotional impact. This could basically pass for a horror film. Thank God that the Saw and Hostel films don't really make you care about the characters, cuz they'd probably be even more unwatchable.
Say what you want about Gibson being all kinds of fucked up, but the man knows how to tell a good story and get a point across, even if subtlety is nowhere to be found.