What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie, which was produced by the same Protestant church that made Fireproof, is equal parts message movie and Evangelical ministry tool. Consequently, the story focuses on themes about conversion to Christianity and being a good, godly father. There's no language or sex, but there's more violence/peril than in similar films -- the cop protagonists engage in chases and skirmishes with suspects that end in fight fights and, in one case, a child being temporarily taken hostage at gunpoint. Tragedy strikes the central family, and one cop's baby is nearly kidnapped when his truck is car jacked. Because of the grown-up themes that focus on the nature of fatherhood and following God's path as a parent, this isn't a movie that will appeal to kids; it's aimed at the men, particularly dads, in the audience.
What's the story?
Adam (Alex Kendrick) is a police officer in a small Georgia town. When Nathan (Ken Bevel) transfers to the squad from a bigger city, the two of them and their partners, Shane (Kevin Downes) and David (Ben Davies), form an easy friendship centered around work and socializing with their families. After a tragic accident strikes Adam's family, he's at first distraught; but then he decides to study the Bible for enlightenment about what it takes to a righteous father. After weeks of research and prayer, Adam creates a special contract that he plans to sign to as a sacred oath. His friends agree to join him -- even David, who isn't a Christian at the start of the movie. Just as the four men are settling into their renewed roles as godly fathers, one of them compromises himself -- and forces his colleagues to decide whether to cover for him or keep him accountable to their shared oath.
Is it any good?
In some ways, this is the best film produced to date by Kendrick and the other filmmakers at Sherwood Baptist Church. The production values are good, a couple of the actors -- particularly Bevel and Davies -- seem like pros, and they're obviously using their profits from Fireproof to up the ante here. But for secular audiences or those who don't already believe in the Evangelical idea of what constitutes a good Christian family, the movie could be off-putting once the focus shifts to Adam's mission in the second half.
It's not that the plot isn't touching or the message inspiring -- every man should aspire to be a wonderful, loving father who puts his children first, even when it's not convenient. But so much of the film feels like an invitation not just to church but to a very specific kind of Christianity that it's hard not to feel preached to, even though there are some genuinely poignant moments. Ultimately the appeal here is for those who already believe, in which case the movie is a call to action and reaffirmation to be the ideal Christian father.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what makes a good father. What does this movie teach about the meaning of fatherhood? Does that match your own experience?
Do you have to be a Christian to understand or appreciate what this movie is saying about fatherhood and life in general?
Do you think the violent/tense scenes were necessary to the story? Why or why not?