It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Persecuted" is a heavy-handed and didactic drama which also manages to be totally mushy in terms of the message it’s trying to convey.
It’s the strangest thing. Writer-director Daniel Lusko’s film definitely has a pro-Christian perspective and is aimed at conservative viewers. The ubiquitous presence of Fox News Channel anchor Gretchen Carlson ensures that, and Glenn Beck is among the movie’s behind-the-scenes backers. But the ideology driving the film’s paranoid-thriller engine is a little elusive.
James Remar stars as popular evangelist John Luther. A formerly abusive alcoholic and drug addict, Luther has turned his life around with the help of the Lord and built a powerful ministry with a massive following. But when Luther refuses to throw his support behind a piece of legislation known as the Faith and Fairness Act—“I cannot water down the gospel to advance anybody’s political agenda,” he solemnly tells the corrupt Senate Majority Leader (Bruce Davison)—he’s framed for the rape and murder of a teenage girl.
This vague bill promises sweeping religious reform but also seems to validate the same protections we already enjoy in the Bill of Rights. Still, several politicians’ futures depend on its passage, all the way up to the laughably menacing, Clintonian president himself. All of these people use their access and their clout to make Luther’s life as miserable as possible. Because clearly, they have nothing better to do.