A Message ‘That Transcends All Religions’: Audience Members Praise ‘The Firing Squad’ at Screening

BJ Kang
By BJ Kang
March 11, 2024NTD Newsroom

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The highly-anticipated screening of “The Firing Squad” previewed at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles on March 2. The private screening was attended by Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. and well-known actor Kevin Sorbo, where guests watched the cinematic retelling of a true story about Christian prisoners who face execution in a third-world country.

Imagine being put on death row, and consider the mental state you’d be in: Would you be racked with fear? Fall into a deep depression? Or despair and lament in your final moments? According to Hollywood director Timothy Chey, this isn’t the case with every inmate who faces execution. He said the story of 3 Christian inmates in a foreign prison who were at peace with their approaching ends captivated his attention.

Timothy Chey: “I heard about this film on CNN, believe it or not. And it talked about an American, a Brit, a Singaporean man, and seven others who were facing execution. And what really stunned me was the fact that the anchor said: ‘How would they feel right now, the night of the execution?’ and they said: ‘They’re calm.’ And the TV anchor said ‘Why?’ And he said ‘Because they have a Savior.’ As soon as I heard ‘Savior,’ I said, ‘Ahh, hey, there’s something more to this.’”

Kevin Sorbo: “I’ve met people in my life, religious leaders in my life, and some can get up there and just ‘Hallelujah, Jesus!’ But some have this, this calm power about them. And that’s the way I wanted to play this character.”

The notion that a faithless convict can do a complete reversal and turn to God could sound far-fetched to some, but to Cuba Gooding Jr., being forced to confront the inevitable might be the moment that changes it all.

Cuba Gooding Jr.: “What’s darker than the fact that you know that you’re about to meet your maker, you know? You’re about to end your life? And do you do it in fear? Do you do it in despair? Or do you give thanks for what you have? And what has been given to you? And do you appreciate that moment?”

To some first-timer viewers watching this movie, the implications of the death penalty go way beyond the legal concepts of criminal law.

Lethanial Matulessya (student): “In the movie, it mentions how everyone has a death penalty, a death sentence, in the end. And I think if you think about it that way, if you just give up your life to Christ, then in the end everything kind of just flows through.”

Despite the film’s Christian themes, audience members praised its universal message.

Faith Barrett (non-participating actress): “I wouldn’t say that it was ‘a Christian film’—I would say that it’s a really cool movie, and then you discover God, you know what I mean?”

Alejandro Cruzet (non-participating actor): “I think that the message was very strong. I think that it’s a message that’s universal, that transcends all religions, not just of Christianity. And that is that of forgiveness, and compassion, and the ability of man to be redeemed through faith.”

Lethaniel Matulessya (student): “It puts a message out there that some people are kind of blind (to) or just don’t know too much about, and I definitely think it shines light on it.”

The Epoch Times and Epoch Studios are releasing the film in 2,500 theaters across the United States and around the world this August. If you’re interested in a based-on-real-life film of a drug trafficker sentenced to death row who finds redemption and spiritual faith in an unlikely place, you should check out “The Firing Squad” on Aug. 9.

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