Actor Jim Caviezel’s movie “Infidel,” opening this weekend, directly challenges the presuppositions of the so-called cancel culture by taking the audience to a place where it reigns supreme: the theocratic state of Iran.
Caviezel plays Doug Rawlins, a popular Christian blogger/apologist who travels to Cairo to speak at a conference about the Abrahamic religions.
While there, he appears on a television program during which the host points out that the Islamic faith believes that Jesus Christ was a prophet.
“We love Jesus, too,” the host says.
“And that’s where I can’t let that one go. And so that’s a problem,” Caviezel told The Western Journal regarding his character.
Rawlins argues Jesus was more than a prophet but is the son of God, who provides the only way for mankind to be reconciled with its creator.
The action flows from there, leading to the American being kidnapped and ultimately imprisoned in Iran.
Caviezel sees the film as kind of a metaphor for the growing intolerance for differing viewpoints in the U.S., as manifested in the cancel culture.
“Peacefully, [Rawlins] was brought in to discuss ideas,” he said. “There was a time where you could do that, you know, when you had a conservative and a liberal discussing, a liberal would be open to that. There is a tolerance where you discuss those ideas, and at some point, ‘hate speech’ got in there.”
“And we have all these other groups now. And that is where you have your brownshirt kind of organizations that don’t allow you to think, don’t want you to think. Marxists. Don’t want you to have an opinion,” Caviezel continued.
“And that’s also with the Islamic regimes. So in this film, you also see that this is not a film that attacks Muslims in any way. But it does go after Islamic regimes and organizations that don’t allow people to have the freedom to have free speech.”
Conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza and his wife, Debbie, are the executive producers and the moving force behind “Infidel.”
D’Souza has produced several popular documentary films, with his next, “Trump Card,” slated to be released next month.
“But the gold standard of Hollywood is not the documentary, it’s the feature film,” he told The Western Journal.
“That’s where Hollywood feels impregnable,” D’Souza said. “They feel like they have a monopoly on telling stories, and their stories exhibit their values. And our side are always the villain.”
“I think it’s very important to challenge Hollywood by our side releasing feature films that tell really good stories and are made at a high quality,” he said.
“Infidel” is a good story, well-told.
It was shot in the U.S. and the Middle East, with the region’s unique sights and sounds filling the screen.
“We actually came up with the idea of doing a film about a patriotic Christian American who … would become entrapped in the politics of radical Islam, both at home here in America and abroad,” D’Souza said.
The D’Souzas brought Cyrus Nowrasteh on board to write, produce and direct “Infidel.” His past projects include “The Stoning of Soraya M,” “The Path to 9/11” television miniseries, “The Young Messiah” and “The Day Reagan Was Shot.”
“I’m always looking for stories to do the deal with Iran,” Nowrasteh, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in the 1940s, told The Western Journal.
“And one of the things that’s always fascinated me is there are Americans being held there right now as you and I speak. And nobody knows,” he said.
The story of “Infidel” is inspired by true events, including the kidnapping and imprisonment of former FBI agent Robert Levinson in Iran in 2007.
One aspect of “Infidel” that the director is particularly proud of is the film’s portrayal of the underground Christian church in Iran.
“That’s never been dramatized before in a movie,” Nowrasteh said.
First and foremost, though, the filmmaker wants his audience to be entertained.
“This is an exciting thriller,” he said.
Agreed. It moves quickly with no lulls in the unfolding drama.
“You’re going to be on the edge of your seat. It’s filled with jeopardy. It’s got twists. It’s got turns,” Nowrasteh said. “I want people to be entertained. I want them to sit in their seat and wonder what happens next, more than anything.
“And if these other messages … behind the movie come across to them and they start to talk about it or think about it or consider it, that’s fantastic. That’s the cherry on top.”
One message Caviezel hopes Christians who see the film will take away is the need to be bold about their faith.
“So our Lord, he provoked many of the Pharisees,” said the actor, who portrayed Jesus in the 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ.”
The Pharisees were Jewish religious leaders who enforced strict rules of conduct, which Jesus challenged.
“He provoked the whole Roman Empire, turned it on its head. But was he evil?” the actor asked. “No. Anything but. And he spoke the truth. He was very bold. And then when you hear that someone saying to be Christ-like, well, that is also to be bold and to speak the truth.”
Caviezel said his character “is a guy who stands up for his faith, and yes, he believes in it. And that’s just something that’s lacking today in the cancel culture.”
“Infidel” opens in theaters Friday.
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