While the quality of many other Christian movies often is questionable at best, “The Case for Christ” is a solid, true-life story of one man’s journey into belief.
Audiences who saw “God's Not Dead 2” may have recognized the real Lee Strobel in a small role. Now here’s his story in “The Case for Christ,” the story of a journalist’s search for evidence for and against the existence of Jesus. It’s based on Strobel’s best-selling book (there’s a documentary, too, that was made in 2007).
Mike Vogel (“Cloverfield”) plays Lee Strobel in 1980. Lee is a newspaper reporter who suspects there is more to a local cop-shooting case then met the eye.
He has a lot more than that on his mind, because his personal life is going topsy-turvy after what his wife considers an incident that was divine intervention. Strobel, his pregnant wife Leslie (Erika Christensen, television’s “Parenthood”) and their daughter Alison (Haley Rosenwasser) are having dinner when the little girl gets a gumball and chokes on it.
A nurse named Alfie (L. Scott Caldwell, television’s “Southland”) helps Alison. Alfie believes that Jesus meant for her to be there at that moment, a concept that intrigues Leslie but annoys Lee.
Leslie, in fact, begins to seek more information about Christianity, and even attends services, much to the hard-drinking Lee’s dismay and, eventually, anger. “I want my wife back!” he shouts.
He becomes so angry and jealous of his wife’s new belief and the time she dedicates to her new-found religion that he decides to gather all the information he can to disprove the existence of Christ. He spends hours doing research, and talks to both Christians and atheists in his quest.
What makes this movie a solid one is its lack of preaching and melodrama. It provides a realistic treatment of a marriage in turmoil, and shows true-to-life arguments that really do occur when one person in a couple is a believer and the other isn’t.
The other thing this movie has going for it, unlike a lot of other faith-based movies, is that it’s populated with capable and sincere performers, from the two leads, who do a convincing job of depicting a marriage split by differing beliefs, to secondary and tertiary characters portrayed by the wonderful Robert Forster and Faye Dunaway.
Sometimes the “proof” that Lee is provided is a little shaky — the Shroud of Turin scene, for example, doesn’t work well. But a medical explanation of Christ’s suffering on the cross is beautifully presented.
Christian audiences will find this a wonderful way to observe Easter.