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Movie review: Christian thriller 'Persecuted' is unintentionally silly

Published July 17, 2014 3:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

They call blockbusters like the "Transformers" franchise "critic-proof," but the Christian-themed "Persecuted" earns the honor — because, in its title, this ludicrous political thriller tells its audience how to feel if anyone dares to dislike the movie.

TV evangelist John Luther (James Remar) tells the liberal Sen. Harrison (Bruce Davison) he won't support the senator's sweeping religious-equality bill, so the senator engineers a plot to frame Luther for a teen girl's murder. Luther, now a fugitive, tries to clear his name, aided by his clergyman father (former Sen. Fred Thompson).

Writer-director Daniel Lusko besets Luther with one-note villains greedy for money or power, a conspiracy among "those who believe in nothing" to attack Christians through Harrison's legislation (though what the bill would actually do is never explained).

Lusko's leaden dialogue and heavy-handed symbolism (Harrison's campaign acronym is SUMAC, as in poison) is as unintentionally comical as the miscasting of Fox News host Gretchen Carlson as a journalist.

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Opens Friday, July 18, at area theaters; rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements; 91 minutes.