Infidels in Iran

Jim Caviezel’s New Thriller Explores Ultimate Questions

The action movie, Infidel, offers us a refreshingly un-PC experience while avoiding the common pitfalls of “Christian” filmmaking.

Starring Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest), the movie shows what happens when Christians fall foul of repressive Islamic regimes, such as exists in Iran.

Caviezel plays Doug Rawlins, a Christian blogger who is kidnapped in Cairo after proclaiming the divinity of Christ on Islamic TV. He is eventually taken to Iran by extremists, who use torture to try to force him to renounce his faith. When the United States government refuses to intervene, Rawlins’ wife, played by Claudia Karvan, travels to Iran to look for her husband. With the help of spies and an underground network of Christian women, she takes part in a daring prison break.

More Than Just an Action Film

Approaching its sixth weekend, the film made over four million in the box office. It isn’t hard to understand the success of this thriller, since it is packed with a string of suspenseful action sequences. But Infidel is more than simply an enjoyable action movie. It raises timeless themes that explore the tension between Islam and the West, faith and secularism, belief and unbelief, truth and falsehood.

The film was written, directed, and produced by Cyrus Nowrasteh, a convert to Christianity and the son of Muslim parents who fled Iran. It is executively produced by Dinesh D'Souza, famous for his controversial political documentaries. With this line-up, one might expect Infidel to be heavy on didacticism and ideology. While the film does address important religious and political questions, it does so in a subtle way that gives viewers space to wrestle with the questions for themselves. And while the film does have a political agenda (it was originally slated for release on September 11th), it avoids simplistic caricatures of Muslims as much as it avoids the fashionable politically correct culture so common in Hollywood.

Taking a Stand Against Radicals

Caviezel, himself a Roman Catholic, said he hopes the movie can build bridges between Christians and Muslims, through encouraging us to take a stand against radicals.

“We cannot begin to bridge the gaps that exist today between Muslims and Christians, by pretending, . . . by not being true to ourselves in our own beliefs,” Caviezel said in an interview with the National Review.

Caviezel added, “While the rest of the world panders to extremists, the real victims are peaceful Muslims. The ones who aren’t extreme — they’re the group most oppressed by Islamic regimes, such as Iran…You’re not harming Muslims by taking a stand against radicals. You’re helping them.”

More than Just a “Christian” Film

In the past I registered concern about “Christian” films, but Infidel changed my mind. It shows that a film can explore explicitly Christian themes while still being good art and without succumbing to cardboard cut-outs as characters. Moreover, the movie shows the power of storytelling to address the ultimate themes of human experience, including faith, fear, pride, sacrifice, courage, and love.

Infidel is still playing in many theaters, so if you haven’t yet seen it, I encourage you to go tonight.*

* Because of violence and language, caution is urged before taking young children to see this movie. It is well-suited for families with older children, as well as youth groups and discussion groups.

is the author of Gratitude in Life's Trenches: How to Experience the Good Life Even When Everything Is Going Wrong (Ancient Faith 2020) and has a Ph.M. in history from King’s College, London. He is currently working on a Master’s in library science through the University of Oklahoma. He works as a freelance writer and researcher for a variety of publications and operates a blog at www.robinmarkphillips.com.

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