Two movies seem to be warring with each other in Christian production company Pure Flix's latest release, The Jerusalem Countdown, based on the best-selling novel by John Hagee. One is a tightly paced, well-acted thriller where a pair of government agents track a group of terrorists intent on detonating nuclear bombs on U.S. soil. The other is a muddle of apocalyptic prophesying and barely veiled sermonizing. As a thriller, the film works surprisingly well, as an evangelism tool, decidedly less so.
David A.R. White turns in a nice performance as agent Shane Daughtry as does Anna Zielinski as the CIA operative who teams up with him. Truncated though it is by the film's other aims, the espionage plot calls to mind the television show 24, building tension as a would-be writer (Carey Scott) discovers that spying on his neighbor will either get him the story that jumpstarts his career or get him killed. Unfortunately, every time The Jerusalem Countdown starts to draw the viewer in, it veers off into disjointed scenes relating to the end times.
If all the prophetic Easter eggs superimposed on the plot are off-putting to a Christian, there is little chance a non-believer will find them engaging. Similarly, if some of the dialogue comes off churchy to a church-goer, imagine how those who've never haunted a pew will respond. While it is plausible for an agnostic husband and his Christian wife (singer Jaci Velasquez) to argue about salvation, it is less likely that two FBI agents in the midst of a heated manhunt are going to stop and discuss their thoughts on Jesus. Better to have authentic characters and leave the evangelizing to another story better suited for the purpose.
That said, though the end-times ending borders on camp, it also acts as a nice cliffhanger set-up for a sequel. If Pure Flix decides to make a franchise out of Hagee's fiction, it will draw more eyes by paring to solid storytelling than by indulging all the author's superfluous obsessions.