As a great admirer of the message and work of Dinesh D’Souza, I was disappointed in the movie INFIDEL. The story line is being marketed as a political thriller of a patriotic Christian advocate who willingly puts himself in harm’s way for the sake of the gospel, thereby suffering physical persecution at the hands of radical Muslims. “INFIDEL tells a story ripped from the headlines. It is a fictional narrative based on true events.”
It is unfortunate that D’Souza did not simply retell and recreate the true events. The authentic story line would be more believable than the fictitious narrative. The real characters would, no doubt, be more sympathetic than the personas created by Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan.
Jim Caviezel plays an American journalist, Doug Rawlins, an internationally known blogger, who is kidnapped while attending a conference on peaceful religious co-existence in Cairo, Egypt. Why his leading Iranian kidnapper speaks with a British accent is just one of many disconcerting facets of the film. It is possible, though, the character the kidnapper portrays reflects someone like Mohammed Emwazi (17 August 1988–12 November 2015), an evil British-Kuwaiti militant believed to be the person seen in several videos produced by the Islamist extremist group ISIL showing the beheadings of a number of captives in 2014 and 2015. He became known as Jihadi John.
Claudia Karvan, as Elizabeth Rawlins, appears in the opening scene as a foul-mouthed, willful, and defiant wife who is angry with God for the death of an unborn child as the result of a car crash. Elizabeth is not supportive of her husband’s evangelistic efforts to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world. Her anger and defiance remain throughout the movie. When Elizabeth has a chance to share her testimony with a house church in Iran, she walks out on God’s people without a word of hope, encouragement, or blessing. Her focus is to get her husband back. No one, and nothing else, seems to matter to her, and that is a tragedy.
If Christians are looking for an iconic role model in the movie, none will be found, and that too is sad, because the Church needs individuals today of unshakeable faith and courage. The testimony of Doug Rawlins is greatly diminished at critical moments, though in the end he does stand firm against every effort to get him to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For whatever reasons, the worldly and secular influence of Hollywood on a faith-based movie is made evident. Many of the stereotypical elements of political correctness are present. Once again, Hollywood must present their version of reality (or what they think should be) in order to promote their own agenda. For instance, the narrative promotes the underground Christian church inside Iran which is portrayed in the movie as being led primarily by . . . you guessed it—women, of course. That’s how Hollywood wants to portray reality, even if it’s not reality. In the movie, the message is conveyed in a not-so-subtle way for even the casual observer: men are toxic, masculine, and mean; women are sweet, heroic and compassionate.
Granted, Christians are relatively new to making quality faith-based films, so some latitude must be given. But if the objective is to speak truth to the world, and uphold traditional values of the family undergirded by the Judeo-Christian faith, then better use must be made of the powerful tool of the silver screen. Movie directors should have the characters speak simply and plainly against some of the most pernicious elements of Islam, such as honor killings of Muslim women and genital mutilations—practices that are all too common around the globe today. Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that all Muslims around the world simply want to live in peace. The reality is there are still elements of Islam who truly believe and that to obey the Qur’an is to die a martyr for Allah.
Those who seek to make patriotic faith-based movies must continue to promote the Christian message and exalt the personal courage of godly people against all odds. Magnify the deeds of those who suffer for the cause of Christ, and do not diminish their ordeals. INFIDEL the movie has room for improvement. Hopefully, Dinesh D’Souza will learn and improve with future projects.