MOVIE/BOOK REVIEW: PERSECUTED (Robin Parrish, Daniel Lusko, Bethany House Publishers/movie release July 18, 2014. The film stars: James Remar, Bruce Davison, Dean Stockwell, Raoul Trujillo, Fred Thompson, Brad Stine, David House, and Tabatha Shaun.
I’m writing of fictional events described at the end of the newly released book and soon-to-be released film by Robin Parrish and Daniel Lusko entitled PERSECUTED. I’m not going to tell you all the events that led up to this scene I’ll describe below, that should be reserved for your personal viewing of the movie or if you have time, the 316-page suspense-laden book.
For background, a famous religious leader has been on the run for weeks. Government agents were tracking him down. This pastor’s cozy relationship with a US Senator had put him in a situation where he was being coerced to usher his flock of millions of believers to support religious freedom legislation in Congress, or else. When he didn’t cooperate, charges of murder were trumped up against him. But now that US Senator was dead all the allegations against this pastor had been cleared.
Luther’s father had already been shot in the head at point-blank range. The US Senator and his wife had been shot and killed to silence them. Secret Service and FBI agents were also among the dead. Pastor Luther suffered gunshot wounds too.
While Luther was on the run the board members of his ministry had replaced him with a career-minded assistant who quickly stepped in to become the new star of the TV ministry. It must have been God’s calling.
Pastor John Luther re-entered the worldwide headquarters of the outreach he had started, Truth Ministries.
So with all the dead bodies and estrangement he experienced from the ministry he had founded, he re-entered his office to find a couple dozen staff members applauding him. They offered wrapped gifts and even a frosted a cake.
John Luther couldn’t fathom what he saw. They were throwing a party for him. They were acting like he was a cancer survivor or something.
A church board member said: “We’re being flooded with donations. It could be our biggest quarter ever!” Luther’s ministry was as big as any Fortune 500 company. Now it was even bigger.
Fame and fortune awaited Luther. All he had to do was accept reinstatement to his ministry. Board members spoke of new ideas to expand the ministry by taking advantage of the ordeal Luther had endured.
Luther had forgot to tell his board members that he didn’t come to accept his reinstatement. He had simply come to pick up an old Bible his father had given him.
Fast forward to a few days later. The scene is Washington DC. The recent events had made government look bad. A US Senator had attempted to coerce a religious leader to sway public sentiment for a vote in Congress over religious liberty. The President of the United States had invited Pastor John Luther to speak at the White House. But Luther knew the trail to recent events led up to the executive branch of the government itself.
The President stood at the lectern with the Presidential seal. He introduced Pastor John Luther as his long-time friend. Cameras from news agencies all over the globe were glued upon Luther.
The President whispered in John Luther’s ear before he took the podium: “Very few men defy their own government and survive. But you did, John. And now everybody in the world wants to hear what you have to say. So let’s play nice, shall we? Real nice.”
Pastor John Luther strode to the lectern. Would he dare go off script? Luther glanced directly at the President and took a deep breath. Cameras lights were flashing. Billions of people worldwide were waiting for his words. John Luther heard a whisper at that moment.
I’ll leave the finality of that suspenseful moment for you to enjoy at the movie house or within the pages of the book.
After being given a preview of this suspense movie I was left with a single impression. This fictional movie was too real.
I’ve had occasion to preview a newly released film entitled PERSECUTED, produced by Daniel Lusko and based upon the book by the same title, written by Robin Parrish.
Both the book and the movie are suspense laden. It’s fictional of course, but you don’t walk away from the viewing this film thinking this will never happen in America. In fact, I began to think, minus all the dead bodies in this thriller, if religious leaders of great influence hadn’t already traded their core beliefs in exchange for fame and fortune offered by government that needed them to sway the vote of millions upon millions of Sunday church goers.
In today’s world of mega-pastors and electronic technology where one preacher’s words to reach millions worldwide, it is possible for to religious leaders to be the swing vote in any election, or influence legislation in Congress.
Freedom challenged in every generation
Starts with drama from the beginning
A reformed man being interviewed on TV
Freedom is fragile and costly, defended even by my blood.
Congressman needs support on the faith and fairness bill
Needs the Pastor’s support
All I am focused on is preaching this book
The legislation protects all faiths
Congressman offers greater exposure and notoriety and contribution to history for his endorsement
We have reached the end of our patience with you
A man running from his past into a tumultuous future
It moves slowly here.
This isn’t a chick flick. There is no sexual tension. It is about principles.
Will the compromise him? Will they corrupt him?
Will they embarrass and out him?
A mega pastor
A young woman jumps in a car and is given drugs
He is forced into a photo with this girl as she edges to the front after his preaching.
Would that photo be used in an incriminating way?
He has small children. Will they use them to force him to compromise?
Suddenly on a road a woman is in trouble
He gets out of the car and is stabbed with a needle.
Pictures are taken with him snuggled up to her naked body.
She is slapped by her handler
There are marks on her
Cops are called
He escapes from the car
Others unknowns take pictures
He is on the run now, as if running away from a crime
He faints in the woods and awakes the next AM with a bloody cut over his left eye.
He wanders back to find a phone. The pay phone is dead.
At a roadside store he cleans his face; not a paying customer
A lady with HELPING HANDS comes to his aid; he borrows a cell phone
He calls home and investigators and combing through his home
The allegation is that he has killed a girl
It is all over the TV news
His wife whispers what is going on at home.
Scene shifts to the grey haired Congressman; he is interviewed as a friend of John Luther and says justice will be served.
He gets a ride to a church, a Catholic church, to his dad., who is in religious garb.
The renowned evangelist John Luther is all over the news.
His father says this is a bigger issue; his father says others are out to bring him down, to charge him with 1st degree murder. He father says he can turn himself in to the authorities. Or there is another alternative.
He is supplied with a roll of money and an old car.
The Congressman says he wants him to turn himself in and he will help restore him.
The Congressman now appeals to the assistant pastor and suggests he might step in and shine. The Congressman wants the mailing list of the church.
The assistant pastor says I’m your man.
Luther is trying to get a room at a hotel without providing ID; but the TV is playing news reports about his alleged crime. They are delving into his past. The girl at the desk calls authorities. He walks out.
He drives to his home. He is outside. The assistant pastor is there with Luther’s wife. He is trying to make a play for Luther’s wife. His wife isn’t falling for it. Luther is outside. Tensely holding the steering wheel. A police car passes. He can see through the window.
His wife Monica says he is coming home. The assistant says he is a fugitive.
All he had to do is show up and tell everybody what happened.
Luther drives on.
He is a man on the run.
The assistant pastor is trying to ram the legislation through the church’s governing board.
The board members waver.
The endorsement of the legislation becomes a vote against a fugitive who wouldn’t support it. There is a tax benefit offered to the church for their support.
Luther is driving around; what is on his mind? His sinful past was nothing like this.
He clings to a Bible searching for direction, reading with the light of a street lamp.
In you I put my trust. Save me from those who pursue me. If there is any iniquity.
In a dream he sees his wife in a rocking chair and him suffering in bed.
He suddenly awakes in a junk yard. He walks into a trailer. They recognize him. Young people are there.
I was assaulted by the shop the other night. I was wondering if any of you saw what was happening.
A young girl says she taped it.
It’s going to cost you.
Brian Morris is approached by the FBI in the street.
Luther’s father enters a meeting led by the Congressman.
Luther wants to go to the police.
His father calls: “Your’re in their way.”
The dead girl was adopted days before.
Luther’s father talks to Luther about Senator Harrison on a park bench at the edge of a park.
His father hands him a hotel key so he can clean up.
His father says people are looking for a symbol for freedom who will not bend at all the lies and slander thrown at him. God will decide who is found wanting. They can’t silence the truth.
He hands his father a disc with the film of that night.
Luther is now in a parking garage and follows his assistant.
A car is now following Luther.
Senator Harrison is called by the President.
The Chief Executive tells a story from his childhood about a rattle snake he found and he squeezed it till it didn’t have any fight left. If I did not, the safety of my entire family was in jeopardy.
Luther is swimming in a pool.
His father places the disc in his computer and views the entire set up with the woman. Now what?
The drama builds.
A gun his at his father’s head. Agents take the computer. He is shot in his chair.
Luther drives to his dad, to find him dead in his chair.
Evil forces are prevailing at this point.
Luther has a pistol. He venture out onto the porch.
“Are you not true to your name?” he beseeches God.
The assistant pastor is asked if he has seen Luther. The agents keep grilling him.
A wire is placed on him.
Luther is driving.
Luther is alone. No one to reach out to.
He drives by his home and sees a US GOVERNMENT plate on a car in the front of the house.
He receives communion at a church.
He tells a young priest that his father was executed. William.
Can you help me?
The Senator is giving a speech on ecumenicalism. How can a government survive without the unity of its own religious community. He says it has never been a Christian nature. He preaches diversity. Of people walking hand in hand toward the light, whatever that is.
Luther is now wearing a religious robe. He is spotted by FBI agents.
The scene shifts to the Congressman’s home. He walks out of the shower to find Luther in his room. Luther grips a pistol. Why did you do this to me?
The Senator hems and haws. Why with the flip of a switch you could be preaching to millions around the world. The real enemy is some guy in a temple or a mosque with a bomb. You’re saying you destroyed my life to protect the world from terrorism.
Stop the Christian platitudes says the Senator.
You thought you were bigger than the system, but you’re not.
I remember what the Lord said to David. He pistol whips the Senator and removes the security camera.
Luther is now watching his kids playing at their school. He begs God to protect his wife and child.
The scene changes to the church boardroom. They are in final discussion, praying for the endorsement of the legislation. Luther is on the way up to the boardroom in an elevator in a hooded jacket.
Luther bursts in in the middle of a prayer. Luther pulls a gun.
Luther is pointing to a slide show of the good fortunes of the church.
Your uncompromising approach is admired but your approach is not a practical one.
Now you are in bed with the government, says Luther.
The agents are listening in a van outside via the wire outside.
Luther flings cash onto the boardroom table.
FBI agents approach, guns drawn.
Luther flings his pistol onto the table.
“That is the destiny of an intolerant man.”
Agents are climbing the stairs; Luther is on the run.
Agents spot him.
William is driving his car as he escapes. Suddenly the car is hit by another.
Agents draw guns ad shoot.
William drives away while shots are fired.
Luther is wounded; he drops off William ans ask him to do something.
William opens a computer and hurriedly uploads a file.
William walks into a newsroom with the footage of Luther with the Senator; they air it.
The President is alerted. The Chief Executive is angered.
Senator Harrison is holding a cell phone: agents gun him down inside the door of his home.
Everything now must be erased. All evidence. Every voice,
Luther is driving on a back roadway with a car following.
The car is out of gas.
He struggles into the brush. Agents pull guns and begin to follow him.
Luther must run. His footsteps are labored. They shoot.
More agents arrive. Heavy weaponry is displayed.
Running for his life.
Wounded and weak, and panting, Luther is suddenly knocked down by a government agent. Another agent pulls a gun.
US Secret Service agents approach and force the other agents to put their guns down.
We’re all on the same team pal.
Caught in crossfire between government agents.
The agent know
Shots, shots, Luther is left with a wound to his chest.
He vision is fading. He recalls his children. Is it his last moments?
He flips open a cell phone. He calls. His children answer. His wife is astonished.
They are dropping the charges his wife says.
It’s time to come home says Monica.
The agents are in a battle. They take a female FBI agent hostage.
Luther grabs a pistol and shoots.
The suspense makes the heart boil.
The film ends with Luther being embraced by his church board. They say they are being flooded with donations. The church board sees a business opportunity. Luther excuses himself.
He goes to his old office and take his Bible.
On air “If you take a man’s right away to speak his mind in a country founded on that freedom.”
Luther walks out with his Bible in hand.
Luther is now at the White House. The President introduces him.
Luther steps to the podium with the Seal of the President of the US.
What will he say?
What will he say?