Given the miraculous B.O. of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ–which pulled in a reported weekend haul of $51.4 million–the inevitable question arises like the cock's crow at dawn: What does the Damascus Road Warrior do for a sequel?
Unfortunately, there are at least two such cautionary examples from Gibson's filmography, each of which inspires hope that the Rapture is just around the corner. The Lethal Weapon franchise degenerated into a privately funded workfare program for Gone Fishing sinners Danny Glover and Joe Pesci (to paraphrase Jefferson, we tremble for them when we realize there is a God in heaven). The other Gibson franchise involves the Mad Max character, who last appearance had audiences rooting that the post-apocalyptic warrior would never make it Beyond Thunderdome (thanks be to God and tempermental superstars, a fourth Mad Max flick is apparently dead).
The Passion–or more accurately, its immense popularity and its generally (though not universally) contemptuous reception by elites remains a fascinating cultural episode. Not long ago, Reason toured the Christian subculture and the what the magazine found there is worth thinking over as The Passion racks up more dollars in theaters everywhere.