People often ask me what the worst movie I've ever seen is. There's no real answer to that, although Assassin 33 A.D. would certainly be an acceptable answer. I'm shocked by this film, not just because it's so ineptly made – and we're talking Tommy Wiseau/The Room levels of ineptitude here – but because it's such a racist, hate-filled work. Believe it or not, this is also a faith-based film. You're reading that right. The people who made Assassin 33 A.D. need to spend less time thumping their Bible and more time actually studying it. Then again, what do you expect from filmmakers who claim their movie “has won more International Screenplay Awards than any know [sic] script in history,” when it's listed as a winner on none of the festival/competition websites where it supposedly triumphed. (Note: After this review was published, the director reached out to clarify that the movie allegedly won all those awards under a different title, Resurrection Time Conspiracy. This is not at all clear from the official website.)
Here's the concept, which I swear I'm not making up. Ram Goldstein (Morgan Roberts) is the leader of a research team working on something resembling time travel. His boss, an Arab Muslim named Ahmed, isn't really interested in science, though. He takes control of the technology to have his gun-toting goons go back in time and attempt to assassinate Jesus Christ before His resurrection. Why? Because he wants “a world without filthy Christian scum.” Ram and his colleagues have to use it, too, in order to foil Ahmed's evil plan. Lots of time-hopping on both sides ensues.
There's so much to unpack here. To reiterate, Assassin 33 A.D. is a movie in which a Muslim tries to wipe out all of Christianity. In the film's eyes, there are no peaceful Muslims. They're all extremist maniacs with one goal – to destroy Christians. What a message. Rarely, if ever, has such blatant Islamophobia been presented onscreen.
That's not all. One of the good guys is given the racist treatment, as well. The sole black character – who, mind you, is a scientist – speaks in racial cliches. His dialogue consists of lines such as “Oh, snap!” and “You nasty!” The white scientists, on the other hand, speak like well-educated professionals. As if that weren't enough, Assassin 33 A.D. presents a stereotypical lily-white Jesus, who has no ethnicity whatsoever. Given the part of the world in which Christ lived, He undoubtedly resembled Ahmed more than Ram. But that would certainly go against the story's “white Christians are victims” worldview.
When it's not being unabashedly bigoted, the picture revels in stupidity. There's a scene where one character talks to Jesus about watching a bootleg copy of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, and Jesus knows what a movie is despite cinema not having been invented in Biblical times. As for the time travel, Assassin 33 A.D. makes up the rules as it goes along. There is no logic or consistency, so following what's going on is a Herculean task. And how weird is it that, over the course of the story, Ram and cohorts witness prominent Biblical events, only to react with sheer ambivalence? Christians without awe in the face of major Christian events? Inconceivable!
Even on the level of a faith-based film, Assassin 33 A.D. is an abject failure. Writer/director Jim Carroll has apparently never met a cliché he couldn't embrace, because they're all here: breakdowns in front of a cross, abrupt miracles, someone being born again, etc. One could almost feel bad for the actors, but they're uniformly awful. I have yet to mention that Christ is played by former American Idol contestant Jason Castro or that reality TV star Heidi Montag has a small role. Suffice to say, neither will receive an Oscar nomination.
If Assassin 33 A.D. was just an excruciatingly bad movie, it would almost be perversely amusing to watch. Unfortunately, it is much worse than that. The film's racist portrayals are as ugly as they are shameful. Presumably, the target audience is that subsection of evangelicals who like to think the non-white world is out to get them. That is not Christian thought, and this “faith-based” movie is not a work of true Christianity.
Zero stars out of four
Assassin 33 A.D. is rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements. The running time is 1 hour and 49 minutes.