This film is nothing more than a masochistic, masturbatory exercise for most True Believers who praise it; a gruesome gorefest for those who confuse extreme and involuntary repulsion with spiritual enlightenment. Because they are profoundly disturbed by the sadistic depictions they witness---they think they've witnessed something profound, when it's actually very simple cause and effect and they would be equally repulsed watching such punishment inflicted upon any creature. But making Jesus the subject of such cinematic abuse turns it into a noble cause and worthy experience to many.
The most self-centered aspect of this exercise in self-flagellation becomes evident when one considers those who say Christ's coming and persecution was prophesied and preordained. Because this means the Romans who these viewers watch torture and crucify Jesus in this orgy of abuse are simply making the Christian calling and God's will possible; so they are all part of the Divine Plan. The Romans are just doing what has to by done according to the ordinance of God and belief system of those who endorse the prophesies. Furthermore, such viewers have willingly come to watch this being done for their own gratifications and to fill their own needs, many bringing their children in violation of the law (the film is rated R), while paying money for the dubious pleasures and benefits of the experience. And, by and large, they do this knowing what they are going to be watching before they watch it. (There's a word for that sort of behavior, and let's just hope most stop it before they go blind or grow hair on their palms.)
Mel Gibson makes it very clear in this film that his primary view of the Christian experience is a fixation on torment, and he is committed to tormenting millions of moviegoers willing to submit to his torment and pay him millions of dollars for admission to the flesh-ripping spectacle, like Romans at the Coliseum. In Gibson's film, the Resurrection is given short-shrift---a quick nod then it's over, because the only real catharsis Mel relates to (and his only thuggish hook for holding his viewers) is that of blood redemption through endless lacerations, gougings, and a simpleton's palette of brutal, nauseating images. The tortures actually described in the Gospels are gruesome enough, but the fact that Gibson piles on so much more of this stuff beyond that which is described in the Bible speaks volumes.
There is no story arc to speak of, just a dull and predictable tedium of jackbooted assaults, with thin, shallow characterizations across the board. It's hard to fault the actors; they are all capable but they've been given little of complexity or nuance to play. They're just pawns onscreen, shifting positions according to direction, there to either participate or observe while Mel feeds Jesus to the lions, bit by bloody bit. So all there is really left to ponder is the filmmakers' motivations.
Mel Gibson's highly-selective use of passages from the Bible for the basis of his highly-slanted depictions, picking and choosing only those parts which best foist his own festering views, combine with Jesus blatantly misrepresented once again as being a white guy (merely the first of Mel's lies going into this film)---to fulfill Gibson's own grandiose sense of martyrdom. Top that with the big bucks he's generating by doing so, and you've either got a stunning cynicism or a boorish naivete or both, wrapped up in colossal ego....as he claims "religious persecution" simply because his work is held up to scrutiny like any other filmmaker and not blindly accepted as some divine and infallible work. It is self-righteous arrogance of the highest order.
It's that simple. It's that sick.