Persecuted Blu-ray Review
John Luther (Remar) is a well-known preacher with a very, very large congregation. Luther (a little heavy handed name considering the religious aspects of this film) is currently at a stalemate with his friend, Senator Donald Harrison (Davison, never creepier). The Senator is trying to pass some new legislation, oddly dubbed “The Faith and Fairness” bill. Basically it makes all religions equal and Harrison claims his bill will make the world a better place. Actually, it will provide a much bigger tax shelter for many of his friends; a shelter that would actually raise their incomes by as much as 200%. Unimpressed with the bill, Luther comes out against it. As his is a major voice, the Senator and his cronies decide it must be silenced. They drug Luther and frame him for the murder of a young woman. But with his faith, and a Glock, Luther will find the truth!
An entertaining, yet sometimes confusing, film, PERSECUTED rises above mediocrity thanks to the performance of James Remar. I’ve long enjoyed him as “the bad guy” in such films as 48 HOURS, THE COTTON CLUB and others but this is really the first time I can remember him playing a decent person and he shines. With his lined face giving him a very strong resemblance to Harrison Ford, Remar manages to stay one step ahead of the law as he fights to clear his name (ironically just like Ford did in THE FUGITIVE).
Along the way to clearing his name Luther encounters other characters and this is where I kind of gave up on the plot and believability. He contacts a priest (Fred Dalton Thompson) who surprisingly turns out to be his father. He also has face to face conversations with a volunteer from a religious organization as well as with a Catholic priest yet, even though he’s one of the most recognized figures in the country (think Billy Graham) THEY DON’T RECOGNIZE HIM!!! I haven’t seen this bad a case of non-recognition since Michael Pare’ grew a little mustache and showed up in EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS 2 and NO ONE recognized him. Not even when he participated in the Eddie Wilson look-a-like contest! Finally, apparently the budget only called for one hit man to work for Senator Harrison because he’s everywhere. Literally. In one scene he’s killing someone in their home yet, seconds later, he’s in a car a hundred miles away following Luther (and the priest that doesn’t recognize him).
On the positive side, the performances are pretty strong. Remar and Davison acquit themselves well as does Dalton Thompson and, in a small role, Dean Stocksell. Lusko’s direction moves fairly well and doesn’t contribute, like the script, to stalling the story in parts. The editing is also well paced and the musical score, by composer Chris Ridenhour accompanies the film well. When things do get moving they do so at a fine pace thanks to these two contributors. While it may not be heaven to watch you won’t go to hell either!
Video: Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the transfer is clean and, like the audio, rather ordinary. Nothing spectacular to report but nothing that takes away from watching the film either.
Audio: Presented in both Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0, the sound is clear and sharp. Background noises and the musical score are well mixed into the process.
There are a few standard extras included in the package but, for some reason, they’re included on the standard DVD and not the Blu-ray. They include:
Audio Commentary: a virtual who’s who of behind the scenes talent, including writer/director Daniel Lusko, film editor Brian Binkman, composer Chris Ridenhour and Director of Photographer Richard Vialet discuss the film in great detail. A commentary that’s well worth the listen.
The Making of “Persecuted” (6:40): a standard behind the scenes look at the film featuring chats with the cast and crew.
Daystar Network Interview (6:24): Lusko and actor Fred Dalton Thompson appear on the Christian-themed talk show.