Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Second Coming (2003) – Is Humanity Worthy of God’s Gift?

Written by Russell T. Davies
Directed by Adrian Shergold

What if humanity blew it? Seriously. What if we have so perverted the wonderful gift God gave us of his son, and Jesus’ sacrifice of dying on the cross for us has become so mangled that God decided to take it back? I mean, he’s God, right? He can do anything…

The Second Coming is a film that I am very surprised hasn’t sparked a whole lot of controversy. It puts a lot of questions out there and provides little in the way of answers. In a way, it’s a caution to many people who believe themselves to be followers of Christ.

Christopher Eccleston is Steve Baxter. He is an ordinary guy who works in a video shop by day and hangs out with his friends at the local pub in the evening. He’s single and miserable about it, pining for his best friend Judith (portrayed by Leslie Sharp) divorced and unhappy as well. Pay attention to that name – it’s an important clue to the role she will play.

Steve is found one night along the road incapacitated and rambling. He’s brought to a hospital and Judith is called. Steve was missing for forty days – imagine that! The mystery deepens as he’s visited by priests at the hospital. There are those who have been reading and paying attention to what is happening; looking for signs.

Steve now believes he is the Son of God. Will anyone believe him? He convinces people to follow him by performing miracles. At one point, he makes it bright as daylight inside a domed stadium at night. When he and his friends are at a pub and a bomb goes off, somehow no one is hurt. Steve delivers a startling indictment of humanity and the current state of religion in the world as he states that “heaven is empty and hell is bursting at the seams.” His solution is that humanity has five days to come up with a Third Testament or Judgment Day will occur.

Evil is present in the world to thwart his purpose. This is indicated as the Devil possesses one man with glowing eyes. He can make others do his bidding through the power of suggestion and a certain degree of mind control.

There are some really good Biblical analogies as Steve is imprisoned on the so-called judgment day and not allowed to speak. What is his purpose here?

The Second Coming was written by Russell T. Davies, known of late to science fiction fans for his resurrection of the Doctor Who television series. Is it no wonder he tapped Eccleston to play the Doctor???? This was first shown on television in the United Kingdom back in 2003. I don’t know of any network that would be brave enough to show it here in the United States due to its subject matter. I always thought that if one’s faith and beliefs were strong enough it would hold up to challenges, and The Second Coming is certainly thought-provoking and challenging.

Davies has no problem putting in lines there that call it like it is. When talking to a priest, Steven calls them out on the “shagging of choirboys”. The story is not always so obvious, as the story unfolds and I wondered what the purpose would be. Would we see a “Judgment Day” the way the “Left-Behinders” a.k.a. Revelationists often portray it? I really wondered how Davies would tie everything together and resolve the situation. He sees Judgment Day as being something quite different than many modern-day Christian sects do. The writing is quite clever and thought-provoking. I can understand how different people see the object of The Second Coming differently.

What may prove to be the hardest for people to digest is how the Son of God is written here. He’s led a life where he hasn’t always known what he was. Instead, he has a revelation at about the same age as Jesus started his ministry. Up until then, he has been an ordinary sort of guy, going out to clubs and drinking, but no steady girlfriend and yes, he’s still a virgin when The Second Coming begins. He’s more human than the Bible would have us believe the original was.

Credit for the portrayal goes to Eccleston and Director Adrian Shergold in addition to Davies. Steve is sympathetic and I found myself rooting for him. At the same time, he’s what many people would consider abrasive – which makes sense when you think of the confrontation between Jesus and the money-changers in the Temple, among other incidents. Eccleston doesn’t play Steve as being particularly divine or holy. There was no “aura” about him the way I thought Gibson depicted Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. Instead, Eccelston gives us a wide range of emotions, from awkward, joking, and acting like the sort of guy I could see hanging out with to confused, determined, searching, and angry – a whole range of emotions surrounding his presence on Earth and what he wants humanity to achieve.

Lesley Sharp as Judith is okay. I thought she underplayed her role throughout the story. Sometimes that worked, and sometimes it seemed like it didn’t. I didn’t find myself warming up to her, but perhaps that is the point as well. At times she seems whiny and drags everyone else down. She is there for a purpose as I learned in the end and the way it plays out is interesting.

The pace of the second half seems a little off after a nice build-up during the first half. It’s as if the story hits its stride and then doesn’t know where to go for a while. It sometimes gets bogged down in the side stories of Steve’s disciples and friends. While I understood the ending in concept, it left me feeling like I wanted something more, although perhaps that is supposed to be the point.

The Second Coming is a good, thought-provoking film. However, most conservative religious types will immediately denounce it as blasphemy instead of pondering the points it makes. It’s a film that makes you think about humanity and our beliefs. The more progressive Christians out there will likely already have thought about many of the points in the film, and conservatives will be too closed-minded to honestly consider the questions it raised. It’s not a film that really entertains, so don’t go looking for that. It’s also quite long at 155 minutes. Fans of Eccleston will be quite happy with his performance here which is how I came to find it. It’s worth watching if you can be open enough about the ideas presented, otherwise skip it.


” Audio Commentary with Russell T. Davies & Director
” Deleted Scenes
” Out-Takes

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