It is increasingly difficult these days for conservatives to enjoy anything from mainstream Hollywood, which has made its contempt for all those white supremacist Trump supporters in the flyover states very clear. Conservative viewers have had enough of movies and TV series that denigrate, ridicule, and demonize their faith and values. They’re done with being bludgeoned by social justice messaging from hypocritical, elitist actors and filmmakers. They’ve cancelled their cable TV and their Netflix subscriptions over increasingly vile, nihilistic content. The only entertainment refuge those viewers are left with, however, is bland “faith-based” programming aimed squarely at conservatives, that too often suffers from low budgets, amateurish quality, and heavy-handed messaging of its own.
So when a movie comes along that merges the best of both mainstream and faith-based filmmaking (but doesn’t fit neatly into either category), that unites strong storytelling and a respect for conservative belief and values, and that doesn’t sucker-punch us with a message of moral equivalence, we need to throw our support behind it and spread the word. Infidel, which opens nationwide today, September 18, is one of those rarities.
Executive produced by Dinesh D’Souza’s media company, and written and directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, whose 2006 ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 sparked front-page controversy and sent Bill Clinton and his former administration cronies into paroxysms of anger, the R-rated Infidel is a Middle East thriller starring Jim Caviezel as an American prisoner of the Iranian regime, falsely accused of spying for the CIA. His only way out is to sign a confession – and publicly renounce his faith and convert to Islam.
Jim Caviezel (best-known, of course, from Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ) plays Doug Rawlins, a prominent Christian blogger who accepts an invitation to a televised speaking engagement in Cairo. His wife Liz (played by Australian actress Claudia Karvan), a State Department official, tries unsuccessfully to dissuade him – she is concerned that he won’t be able to resist proselytizing in the Muslim country and sparking controversy. And indeed, although Rawlins does his best to find common interfaith ground with the congenial Muslim host of a TV talk show, he finds himself compelled to testify a truth of his faith that directly contradicts Islam, as shocking as that is to the show’s studio audience and viewers. A clip from the show swiftly goes viral on the internet and Rawlins finds himself at the center of a budding international incident. He is subsequently kidnapped, brutalized in a secret location, and accused of spying by agents of the Iranian regime who, unlike too many in the West, are perfectly comfortable acknowledging that we are in a Clash of Civilizations. “We’re going to win,” his Muslim captor promises him, “because we’re not afraid to die.”