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Persecuted (Blu-ray Review)

PersecutedReligious films having been making their presence felt at the box office lately with the likes of films like God’s Not Dead.  There seems to be a stronger audience than ever that’s willing to bust out their wallet for films with that kind of theme at the box office.  Persecuted comes in the form of a religious political thriller.  The film was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then premiered at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Tennessee in February of this very year.  It was also shown at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC.  The film impressively sports actors James Remar, Bruce Davison and Dean Stockwell.

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Film 

Leading evangelist John Luther is butting heads with Senator Donald Harrison over a Faith and Fairness Act that Harrison is trying to get passed.  Once Luther finally shuts him down, Harrison puts into act some devious deeds to frame Luther for rape and murder and hoping the public will believe his drug addict past has come back out.  Luther then goes off the grid and on the run in order to try and prove his innocence while Harrison takes advantage of his absence and gets the Faith and Fairness Act passed within Luther’s inner circle.

This film is just completely ludicrous and laughable in the story its trying to tell.  Not only unbelievable is its main story, but putting it just as a some sort of generic thriller doesn’t even work for it either.  Its so silly and even worse than just something that is just paint by numbers.  Too much of it doesn’t really make sense or just comes across as flat out stupid.  Why do these christian films always feel like none of them ever watch any movies or haven’t seen any in over 20 years.  What audience gets engaged in these and aren’t seeing just how dumb they actually are.  I’m not knocking on christianity, I’m just saying these people don’t know how to make a good film that isn’t just silly or dumb.

My hopes got up a little early on seeing that James Remar, Bruce Davison and Dean Stockwell were in this.  But after the first act it became apparent that either leading a film or a nice dollar amount on a paycheck got them on board here.  All the actors play their respective parts quite well, and there’s a bit of a unique situation to see James Remar as the lead in a film in 2014.  However, I can’t believe some of the completely moronic and bad dialogue coming out of these characters’ mouths.  These guys had to be on set just like, “Wow, I can’t believe this.  Are you sure that’s what you want me to say?”  I mean, its just bad.

This isn’t some sloppily made film or poor production.  Its competently directed, shot and acted by the main cast (everyone who isn’t a known name in the film is actually pretty terrible).  However, the film’s script, dialogue and just main story is too stupid to follow.  You as an audience member are a million times smarter than this “thriller” if you’ve seen only one movie or hundreds of movies.  Oh and word to the wise, it can steal some suspense from a film if you start your film off in the future showing your main character alive and well, then want us to wonder whether or not he’s going to survive later on.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is a sharp but sort of troubled picture.  Full daytime scenes look nice and vibrant and detailed, but as you’ll see in the Black Levels section, whenever the darkness looms, so does the downfall of the transfer.  Its also noted that a lot of the film takes place at night and in dark rooms.

Depth:  Not much exquisite depth on display here.  A bit flat, but there are some instances where there is a hopeful three dimensional picture looming.

Black Levels:  This film is really really black.  I mean its dark and there are many scenes where you just can’t see a damn thing.  Detail is hidden anywhere there is black present.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and pronounced.  They have a nice rich and natural quality to them.  Reds are a standout.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and inconsistent.  They seem to change in a few scenes.  Scenes in the darkness tend to throw them off too.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean, except for this sort of fake grain like filter that shows up frequently throughout.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Stereo 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a pretty legit 5.1 track.  Effects are capture with an impactful and defined approach.  There is a fair balance between sound, voice and score and they blend quite nicely with each other in the mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Crashes and gunshots are enhance as well as some deep scoring hits.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mostly ambient noise and muted scoring.  There is some great right and left interplay and depiction.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud and clear.  Front heavy.

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Extras 

Persecuted comes with a DVD Copy of the film.  On that DVD is where you’ll find all the bonus features as they are head scratchingly not present on the Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary – Daniel Lusko, Richard Vialet, Brian Brinkman and Chris Ridenhour

“Making Of” Featurette (SD, 6:40) – This goes one by one from the direct then to each cast member and they describe their characters in the film.

Daystar National Interview (SD, 6:23) – The director and Fred Dalton Thompson on some christian talk show promoting the film.

Previews – Persecuted, Ragamuffin, Life Of A King, Home Run

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Summary 

Persecuted is quite a silly film that will make you feel dumber for watching it.  Its presented with a murky video presentation that has solid audio accompaniment.  The extras provided are a very EPK friendly lot.  I don’t really know who to recommend this film to, but whoever you are I strongly recommend renting it or streaming it first before you make the commitment to purchase the film on Blu-ray.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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