...shining light on the media, one review at a time
What makes a film a classic? It can be difficult to isolate or agree on all the traits, but one that seems obvious is the quality of being timeless. The truly classic movies, like the greatest works of art in other forms, only get better with age. One such surprising film is the World Wide Pictures feature, Caught.
When Caught was made in the late 1980s, the production quality was equal to the secular films of the era. Hard-hitting to a shocking degree for a Christian picture, Caught unblinkingly tackles the darkest of topics in a story that was highly relevant for its time. Twenty-six years later, Caught is, amazingly, even more pertinent and “modern” in its issues and themes than before. The release of Caught on DVD is a timely opportunity to train Christians for radical evangelism and to reach this generation’s “worst” of sinners.
High school graduation should be a time of excitement and promise. Not so for Tim Devon, who finds out just after graduation that everything his mother told him about his supposedly deceased father was a lie. Floundering in this identity crisis of major proportions, Tim leaves his mother and girlfriend in Los Angeles and goes to seek his Dutch biological father in Amsterdam.
Tim hopes that locating his father will help him find his own identity, but Tim instead finds only trouble and darkness in Amsterdam. The search for Tim’s father dead-ends as quickly as his money runs out, and Tim plummets into a desperate life of crime, drugs, and immorality of all kinds.
Just when Tim sinks to his lowest point, he encounters a preacher from India who is visiting Amsterdam for an international conference of itinerant evangelists. This pesky preacher constantly gets in the way with his efforts to help relieve Tim’s suffering. Tim thinks this strange Indian man is too clueless to understand what Tim really needs and is far too poor or religious to supply it.
Tim is about to discover that the God he thinks he knows is exactly everything he needs.
Drugs, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, and homosexuality. When Caught was originally released, such plot elements required the setting of the liberal, famously immoral Amsterdam to be plausible. In the twenty-first century, these topics are tragically relevant to life in any developed country and America, in particular. The fact that people currently living in any large American city and even some small ones confront these issues on a regular basis means that Caught is more needed than ever and better armed to make a difference.
The making of this classic begins with a well-written screenplay that bucks the stereotypes for its genre of Christian film, while capitalizing on the genre’s strengths. The story of Caught avoids the mandatory “preaching” that can be a turn-off for modern viewers, but still manages to weave the Gospel message strongly throughout its honest, realistic portrayal of a person lost in the darkness of life without God.
Indeed, the filmmakers are so unafraid to tackle the most debase of sins, that, while these acts are not shown in explicit detail, the topics render the film inappropriate for young audiences. For mature teens and adults, this unblinking portrayal of hopelessness and evil turns into one of the more memorable examples of redemption in film.
This powerful win of good over evil is achieved through the character of the preacher from India, who, despite being the “good guy” preacher man, is just as or more complex and fascinating as the bad boy, Tim. Through culture shock moments, the preacher provides the story with its only humor, while his commitment to servant evangelism is nothing short of inspiring. Even this lover of God, however, has his doubts in scenes that render him and his struggle to reach Tim more relatable and moving.
Excellent actors and skilled filmmakers on par with the makers of secular pictures of the day bring the powerful story of Caught to life, assuring its impact. Without the poor acting that marked later Christian films, Caught is filled with players who are visceral enough to make viewers not think about the acting at all. The few weak links in the cast are smartly not given enough screen time to hurt the film, but the obvious emphasis on authenticity enables remarkable depth even in supporting roles.
At the forefront are the two lead actors, John Shepherd and Amerjit Deu, who set the tone of no-nonsense realism and no-frills acting. Deu, as the itinerant preacher, does a particularly masterful job of ensuring that his often humorous and seemingly naïve character is taken seriously and conveys the depth of a complicated individual who is far more than comic relief.
Not at all weakened by age, Caught stands as an example of the quality and impact that all Christian films should strive to achieve. More importantly, however, Caught is a compelling, unforgettable film with the power to change the lives of all who watch it—believers and nonbelievers alike. Get a copy of Caught and invite everyone you can think of to watch this redemptive tale that only gets better with age.
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'" – Luke 24:45-47 (ESV)
Check out these similar titles:
The Prodigal (World Wide Pictures, 1983)
The Climb (WWP, 2006)
The Hiding Place (WWP, 1975)
For more ideas, check out our What to Watch page!