Discussing religion is in the same vein as discussing politics for me. It could start off as a friendly discussion, but can quickly turn ugly due to where you stand on the subject. This film success relies on its viewer position on Jesus Christ in order for it to succeed. Never will it attempt to convert non believers to accept it views, but neither will the film reach them the same way as those who follow the word of Christ.
The Passion of the Christ is about the final hours of Jesus Christ life. If you're seeking to learn about Jesus Christ, evaluate his teachings, analyze deep characters, and find meaning in the symbolic man that is Jesus Christ this is the wrong film for you. Characterization, pretext, metaphors, and his teachings are thrown out in favor to get across Christ suffered (quite allot) for our sins. It's biggest drawback is assuming everyone will know about Jesus Christ before viewing the film. Since it tells you nothing about Christ or his teachings interpretation of a man's passion towards love his fellow men comes across differently. Christ is not written as a character or as a man, but rather represented as an object of extreme physical suffering and one with a messiah complex. Without providing context the film exploits the prolonged torture inflicted on Christ with no emotional attachment made for the uninformed or non believers. Limiting more than just its audience it also limits the meaning of the message meant to get across. If you are aware Jesus Christ or a firm believer the film will pull your heart strings. Providing brief flashbacks on some of the famous passages in his life story. Focusing in detail the suffering Christ had to endured before the inevitable death. This setup will make it difficult for followers to endured because unlike most film centered around Jesus Christ showing his suffering is it focus. As a film it fails to reach a larger audience than it could have obtain; however, it's intention wasn't so much in informing viewers about Jesus Christ or his teachings, but rather to get across the love he had for his fellow man. For this reviewer he was left unmoved, distant, and cold due to an absence of characterization, but also acknowledges it completed it set goal. A trait he greatly admires even if the film failed to impact him in the manner it intended to.
Mel Gibson direction is admittedly intelligent and a true work of a master. Not a single a piece of dialogue is said in English or in any modern language. A decision that makes it depiction very authentic to what it's portraying. Gibson takes directorial embellishments not found in his source material: Satan's repeated visits; the snake in the Garden of Gethsemane; the raven and the crucified convict; Judas' delusions of children as demons, and such, but they work in favor of the story. As for the violence Gibson does not shy away from it because of his goal to painstakingly show the extent of Jesus Christ suffering. Resulting in prolonged torture scenes and a second half that mostly consist of a broken, bloodied, and wounded Jesus Christ struggling to carry his cross to his death destination. Casting is also another bright spot by not having actual stars there's no possible distraction in what's occurring on screen. Of course the one actor that gets the most attention and vital role is Jim Caviezel. Jim Caviezel is a more Semitic-looking Jesus and gives a simple-stated, vulnerable performance. It's physically demanding Caviezel to constantly come across as a wounded man changing his mannerism to fit with the condition his character is currently. At the same time his delivery of dialogue has to come across as passionate and well meaning as well as batter and difficult to speak from the punishment he receives. The fantastic score sweeps up and down in majestic ways and it is more impacting that anything else, but as a side effect it is cheap and manipulative depending on the viewer position.
The Passion of Christ does what it was intended to do which was display Jesus Christ suffering in his final hours in great detail. Whether or not that makes it a good film will varied because of beliefs and knowledge of Jesus Christ, but it does make it shallow piece of a film that fails to provide character worth getting emotionally attach towards and getting across the significance behind it's subject life. If you're not a follower of Christ (like myself) you will condemned the film for it weaknesses, but in my position I choose to reward the film with a positive review for what it intended to accomplished rather than criticize it for what I simply wanted it to be.