By Grant Dillard, Staff writer
Christian films can be hit-or-miss sometimes. Great movies like “The Ten Commandments,” “The Passion of the Christ” and “Hacksaw Ridge” have shown that faith-based films can be very successful with critics and audiences alike; however, other faith-based films like “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof” and “War Room,” while providing very good messages, aren’t exactly the greatest. Thankfully, “The Case for Christ” shows that a film can give good messages and ideals while still being a good movie on its own.
Based on Lee Strobel’s book, “The Case for Christ” focuses on Strobel (Mike Vogel), a well-respected atheist journalist from the Chicago Tribune who lives happily with his wife Leslie (Erika Christensen) who shares her husband’s non-religious beliefs. After their daughter survives a near-death experience, Leslie ends up accepting Jesus Christ. Now that she has a personal relationship with God, she starts going to church more, reading scripture, praying and sharing her newfound belief with her daughter. This is displeasing to Strobel, as it goes against what he’s believed in for most of his life as an atheist. Wanting to set things back to how they were before, Strobel sets out to obtain enough evidence to disprove Christ’s existence; however, Lee comes across answers he never expected, leading to his life changing forever.
What makes this film better than other Christian films is that it doesn’t succumb to any of their shortcomings. Films like “War Room” and “Facing the Giants” tend to feature mediocre acting, clumsy dialogue and forced attempts at humor. That’s not the case for “The Case for Christ.” Mike Vogel and Erika Christensen are solid in their roles, and their scenes together are very good and genuinely captivating. It never feels like the actors are just reading lines from a script; instead, the dialogue between the two feels sharp and natural.
The film’s best performance is easily Mike Vogel as Lee Strobel. He portrays Strobel as a very nice and charismatic person who loves his work, as well as his family. It also helps that though Strobel is an atheist, he’s never portrayed as unlikable. He can still be a very nice and respectful person, which helps in making him more interesting as well as the audience growing attached to him. Strobel does have his moments where he gets frustrated with his wife, but he never stoops so low to the point where he’s irredeemable. It seems natural that a person under his circumstances would feel frustrated every once in awhile.
Aside from the main story, there’s a subplot involving a police shooting that Strobel is investigating. This could have easily felt unnecessary and tacked on, but it’s actually very interesting and engaging to watch. At first it seems obvious who’s innocent and who’s guilty, but things end up not being as they appear as the story progresses. This subplot is a nice companion piece to the main story.
Solid performances, good dialogue and a captivating story help “The Case for Christ” succeed. Christian moviegoers will already feel right at home with this film, but even non-religious audiences will find enjoyment. Anyone questioning the existence of Christ may end up finding the answers they’re looking for when they check this film out.