I don't know Hush, I guess I would just describe the Passion and death of Christ as love in action, as in "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."(John 15:13)
I just see the movie as a depiction of that love in action, the focal point, and the preordained fulfillment of his life and ministry, the very reason for his life and ministry.
I guess it could depend on one's point of view when seeing the movie. I guess I just have a hard time visualizing a person even going to the see movie and having never heard that Christ died for humanity out of love.
I could understand someone not being able to see beyond the violence if they had never heard of Christ and his sufferings and death on behalf of mankind out of love, "For God so loved the world..."(John 3:16) (but even then, if I remember correctly, wasn't it that particular verse that was emblazoned across the screen at the very beginning of the film? If not it was a similar one declaring God's love in preparation for what the viewer would soon be seeing, it may have even been John 15:13. Tacky afterthought? I'm really at a loss as to how you could have walked away with that impression, unless you missed the opening and the several other references throughout the movie), but I feel pretty sure that most people who see it have at least that basic understanding, not even taking into account that the meaning was clearly depicted. Now whether they really care or not, or whether they actually believe it or not, I think the message would still be pretty clear though, regardless. They might not be emotionally moved by the film in quite the same way, but that's different than not getting the meaning of the film and seeing it only as a portrayal of violence, at least to my way of thinking.
And if I've actually done Gibson's directing for him, unintentionally or otherwise, I'd better be getting a check in the mail!