Cue blurred scene. A male body is lying on the ground in a pool of blood. A woman is crying out, holding him. Police rush in and arrest her. Voice over: I watched my best friend die. This is not your average vanilla Christian movie.
Directed by Nick DiBella
Brendan King (Crawford Wilson) found Jesus and true faith serving time after the police arrested him – when his friend from his gang was shot in the opening scene – and is given one last chance to find a home; his 18th foster home. Mike (James McDaniel) and Vanessa (Lynn Whitfield) lost their policeman son four years ago when he stopped a car and was shot and killed by the driver. Mike hasn’t given up on trusting God that there is a plan that included the tragic loss of their son and sees Brendan as a way to serve God and His plan. Vanessa still struggles with the loss and with the idea that a God who loves them would take her son. When Mike brings home Brendan it causes a schism of priorities between Mike and Vanessa.
Brendan, for all his arrests, felonies and gang affiliations, seems genuinely committed to his faith. He joins the local school Bible study / Christian group, the Seekers, and takes humble work mowing the playing fields at school. When Brendon saves prom queen Natalie (Kayla Compton) from her wrecked car before it burned he find acceptance and friendship and above all – hope that he has finally found a way out of his past life. Then his gang shows up.
[SPOILERS] Eli (Brandon Correa), a member of the same gang Brendan belonged to, wants a stash of drugs that Brendan and their slain gangmember hid prior to the bust. Brendan doesn’t want the drugs out on the street, but when Eli and his crew start hurting Brendan’s friends, and beat him badly, he decides to take the gang out to the drug stash then kill them. Mike, who doesn’t know about the details only the difficult decisions, told Brendan that he needs to rely on God, but Brendan feels that this is the only way. [END SPOILERS]
This is a “Christian” movie that defies stereotypes. It isn’t cheesy and the resolution seems more realistic than many miracle-at-the-last-second stories. This film is full of violence, drugs, sexuality (including an admission by one of the characters of having an abortion). Non-Christians may still look at the story and think parts of it are too good to be true, but that’s the difference between degenerate and regenerate thinking. God really is too good to be true.
One thing I struggled with was the casting in the story. Brendan, Crawford Wilson, is such a clean cut, earnest white guy that it is hard to envision him as a thug drug dealer. Crawford is straight out of 90210’s preppy school of acting that even with (obviously fake) tattoos and a couple scars he just isn’t able to pull off the complexity of the character. I bought earnest Christian. I didn’t buy thug.
This story is well acted by the other actors, especially the sinister Eli, Brandon Correa, mentor Mike, James McDaniel, and hurt mother Vanessa, Lynn Whitfield. I especially liked that Brendan was already saved and dealing with consequences from his previous actions – something that Christians sometimes gloss over suggesting that faith fixes everything, which is not true.
This is perhaps the best Christian film of recent years. Realistic and redemptive.
Thanks to Provident Films we also have two copies of this DVD to giveaway.
Congratulations to John K. or Murfreesboro, TN and Latoya P. of Antioch, TN for winning copies of this DVD!
Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.
Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.
This DVD was provided by the publisher as a review copy.