The Passion of the Christ


Mixed or average reviews - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 43
  2. Negative: 9 out of 43

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    This is not a sermon or a homily, but a visualization of the central event in the Christian religion. Take it or leave it.
  2. 90
    Gibson has made a big, bold, nightmarishly beautiful film not just about the dawn of the Christian faith, but about the awful tendency of human communities (wherever and whenever in the world they may exist) toward self-preservation, intolerance and mob rule.
  3. 88
    A gripping, powerful motion picture -- arguably the most forceful depiction of Jesus' death ever to be committed to film. It leaves an indelible imprint on the psyche; viewers of this movie may never look at a crucifix in quite the same way.
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    If an age produces the renditions of classic stories that reflect those times, then The Passion of the Christ, which is violent, contentious, emotional, extreme and highly proficient, must be the Jesus movie for this era.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    A serious, handsome, excruciating film that radiates total commitment.
  6. 75
    It's a strange kind of spiritual movie -- one that aims for the gut more often than the heart.
  7. Tempting as it may be to dismiss Mel Gibson as a glorified pain freak, dressing up a martyrdom fantasy in Aramaic and Latin, it would be more accurate, I think, to say that the filmmaker, a Catholic fundamentalist, presents his torture-racked vision of Jesus' last 12 hours on earth as a sacred form of shock therapy.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    There is enlightenment -- even stark poetry -- in The Passion.
  9. 75
    Stunning in its violence and fascinating in its ironbound focus.
  10. 75
    Powerfully moving and fanatically obtuse in equal doses. The typical star rating doesn't apply, because scenes range from classic to poor and all stops in between.
  11. 75
    A highly personal, provocative and in some ways riveting vision with an inspired performance by Jim Caviezel as Jesus.
  12. 67
    It's not the most flattering depiction of Jews I've seen. Still, The Passion of the Christ is something of a masterpiece, terrible to behold, unfit for children, certainly, but very much the work of a director in the throes of his own distinct passion.
  13. The main message of this drama is driven home with emotional hammer blows.
  14. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Seems to be exactly the movie Mel Gibson wanted to make as an abiding profession of his traditionalist Catholic faith. On that score it is a success.
  15. More spirit and grace and less blood and guts may be what Passion needs.
  16. The film is never dull -- no mean feat, given that it spends two hours telling a story whose end is widely known -- and features performances that range from coarsely effective to phenomenal.
  17. 60
    Even within what often looks like a self-indulgent exercise in humiliation, pain and gratuitous gore, there is no denying the moments of genuine and powerful feeling in The Passion of the Christ -- some of which, by the way, evoke Jesus's most profound teachings of Jewish principles.
  18. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    A tormented movie about torment; loopy, over-reaching and occasionally suspicious. Simultaneously, it is a daring artistic endeavour.
  19. Expertly made, thanks largely to Jim Caviezel's fervent portrayal of Jesus and Caleb Deschanel's skillful camera work. But the film contains little to learn from, unless one is unfamiliar with basic Christian history.
  20. Too much Good Friday and not enough Easter Sunday. Emphasizing Jesus' agony over His ecstasy, Gibson has delivered a blood-drenched epic more stunning for its brutal violence than for its depiction of the calvary.
  21. The Passion of the Christ should have left audiences in a state of exaltation. Instead it just leaves audiences exhausted.
  22. 50
    Mel Gibson may have changed the face of cinema forever. I think he has: He's made the first true Jesusploitation flick, a picture that, despite its self-righteous air of grave religiosity, is barely spiritual at all.
  23. Controversial, yet undeniably powerful.
  24. Gibson's intense concentration on the scourging and whipping of the physical body virtually denies any metaphysical significance to the most famous half-day in history.
  25. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Instead of being moved by Christ's suffering, or awed by his sacrifice, I felt abused by a filmmaker intent on punishing an audience, for who knows what sins.
  26. In effect, aspects of Gibson's creative makeup -- his career-long interest in martyrdom and the yearning for dramatic conflict that make him an excellent actor, coupled with his belief in the Gospels' literal truth -- have sideswiped this film. What is left is a film so narrowly focused as to be inaccessible for all but the devout.
  27. Did it move me? And the answer is no. I thought it has a certain ghoulish, voyeuristic fascination, but I found it strangely remote and uninvolving on both emotional and spiritual levels.
  28. On its own, apart from whatever beliefs a viewer might bring to it, The Passion of the Christ never provides a clear sense of what all of this bloodshed was for, an inconclusiveness that is Mr. Gibson's most serious artistic failure.
  29. 40
    X-ploitative though it may be, the spectacle of a man beaten and tortured to death seeks to be an object of contemplation. Serious questions are raised.
  30. It's too turgid to awe the nonbelievers, too zealous to inspire and often too silly to take seriously, with its demonic hallucinations that look like escapees from a David Lynch film; I swear I couldn't find the devil carrying around a hairy-backed midget anywhere in the text I read.
  31. 40
    Who is this film for? It’s for the Christian followers who haven’t really read their scripture.
  32. What I do know is that I was gripped for a while by the strength of Mr. Gibson's filmmaking, only to be repelled and eventually excluded by his literalist insistence on excruciation. There is watching in horror, and there is watching in horror.
  33. The $25 million of his own that Gibson is said to have put into this film may be conscience money, and the savagery in the picture may--consciously or not--be Gibson's way of saying that violence is not always valueless.
  34. It isn't just the violence that is overplayed. There is so much creepy-Gothic Sturm und Drang in The Passion that at times it seems as if Clive Barker should get credit for the story along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  35. 38
    Gibson mounts a convincing crucifixion, but his victim is the audience. The Passion of the Christ aims its metallic cat-o'-nine-tails at the viewers' nerves.
  36. 30
    While it fails to shed significant new light on its subject, Gibson's film and the all-Jesus-all-the-time attention from the media it's attracted do tell us something somewhat disconcerting about the state of American culture: That the way to make a religion based on love and forgiveness relevant today is to turn it into violent entertainment.
  37. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: David Denby
    By embracing the Roman pageant so openly, using all the emotional resources of cinema, Gibson has cancelled out the redemptive and transfiguring power of art. [1 March 2004, p. 84]
  38. The visual big top is the scourging and the crucifixion -- again and again, Gibson returns to the blood-letting. Again and again, we're exposed to the clinical repetition of a single act, until an alleged act of passion comes to seem boring and passionless. Is that not a definition of pornography?
  39. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    From my perspective, the film's anti-Semitism is implicit rather than programmatic, and, in the film's current form, a little sneaky.
  40. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II. It is sickening.
  41. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    This is a two-hour-and-six-minute snuff movie -- The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre -- that thinks it's an act of faith.
  42. 20
    Gibson makes sure that no blow remains unfelt, and his approach can't help but stir the body, but he never touches the soul.
  43. If I were a Christian, I'd be appalled to have this primitive and pornographic bloodbath presume to speak for me.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 793 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Dec 31, 2011
    Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life before his crucifixion. As a christian myself IMel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life before his crucifixion. As a christian myself I really couldn't find much of his teachings and theories of love and forgiveness because movie's pretty much torture porn in a nutshell. However leaving the fact that whenether you're a christian or not, the movie's realistically portrayed as the bible describes it, where he was beaten up by the Romans and was crucified for us. As Roger Ebert says, take it or leave it. Full Review »
  2. Jul 15, 2011
    Im sorry but 47/100 on Critic Reviews? C'mon people! This was, and still remains, as a classic film about the true nature of the crucifixionIm sorry but 47/100 on Critic Reviews? C'mon people! This was, and still remains, as a classic film about the true nature of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This film will not only bring you to tears, but put a smile on your face once you realize that one man put his own life on the line for us. Christian or non-Christian, you need to see this film. Now. Full Review »
  3. SheilaD.
    Feb 16, 2009
    I have read quite a few of the comments. It's very much the case of you liked it or you didn't. I am a Christian but I found it I have read quite a few of the comments. It's very much the case of you liked it or you didn't. I am a Christian but I found it left me slightly emotionless. But the boy tried his best. What I do find offensive is the crowd who didn't enjoy it are very free with their opinions. They feel they need to denigrate anybody who did enjoy it as a moron and that they are uneducated, numbskulls etc etc. Personnally I don't give a dam what you think of Christians or any other religion for that matter, but don't try and make out we are stupid and you are they great informed of this world. Your are not. Every time you open your mouth you exhibit to the whole world what a pathetic numbskull you are. Keep the gob shut and maybe someone might think you have a brain. Full Review »