THR3E (2007) – Film Review

Hi, this is Cap the Filmmaker. I’ve been following the progress of the movie Thr3e ever since the project was greenlighted by Namesake Entertainment. The film is based on the Ted Dekker novel of the same name. You can check out the trailer here.

The following is the official plot synopsis: “When a young seminary student is targeted by a psychopathic killer, he joins forces with a criminal psychologist whose brother was murdered by the same madman. Together they must unravel the killer's riddles and catch him before he strikes again, but the closer they get, the more twisted the path becomes. This heart-pounding thriller will keep you guessing up until the final shocking scene!”

Though the film doesn’t open until Friday, I was privileged enough to receive an advanced-copy DVD (yes, legally). The first thing that stood out to me was the exceptional cinematography and desaturated colors. This looks like a slick Hollywood product, not a cheap, cutesy Christian film. Furthermore, the prologue is one of the most riveting openings I have ever seen in a movie made by Christian filmmakers outside Hollywood. The acting is good all around, and while the storyline isn’t always the most logical, the overall tone of the film keeps the viewer’s interest for—

Hi, this is Cap the Film Critic. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t wait to speak any longer. The Filmmaker dude is about to make me queasy. Sure, the prologue to this film is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, the setup creates the need for an epilogue that is one of the most ridiculous film closures I have ever seen in a film made by Christians outside Hollywood. There are also several lame explosion effects that are used intermittently throughout the production. Could someone have raised just a little more money so they could actually blow a few things up? Then there’s the occasional problem with ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement), which makes it very obvious when dialogue was dubbed over the original recording. And why couldn’t the story have been tighter? One of the most riveting scenes doesn’t propel the story forward at all, showing that Christian screenwriters still have a lot of work to—

Hi, this is Cap the Theologian. I’m tired of waiting my turn. The thing is, I’m torn about Thr3e. On one hand, the filmmakers accomplished something few Christians have: they produced a film based on a Christian worldview that is both obviously not secular and yet not manipulatively proselytizing. There is no blatant salvation message and no one prays the sinner’s prayer. Instead, the Christian worldview is an organic part of the story and not an unnaturally forced element of the plot. For that, I am extremely grateful. We desperately need more films like this.

On the other hand, the core doctrinal premise of the film—and this is a problem with the source material—is a gross misinterpretation of a key biblical principle taught by the Apostle Paul. I wish I could go into further detail but that would spoil the ending. Suffice it to say, the theological implications of Ted Dekker’s story are staggeringly unbiblical. I wish Dekker’s semi-Pelagian theology would take a flying leap off—

Hi, this is Cap the Filmmaker again. Okay, so the underlying premise of the film is not in tune with sound doctrine. Namesake Entertainment definitely needs to improve the strength of its theological department. Well, there is no such department, but maybe that’s the problem. Anyway, what the movie espouses is nothing new. People won’t walk away from the film with their worldview irrevocably skewed. Thr3ee is still an engaging story, albeit with plot holes and inconsistencies. It may not be up to par with The Visitation (Namesake’s best production thus far), but it is helping to raise the bar for Christians in the film industry. That is enough of an accomplishment to warrant my recommendation.

Artistic Merit: 5
Personal Marks: 9
Theological Soundness: +10/-10

Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and terror. [Make no mistake: this is a(n) (appropriately) dark film that deals with the evil of human nature. It doesn’t glorify violence or evil at all, but it doesn’t sugar coat it either. This is, in fact, a sugar-free movie.]