A matter of life and death is given a persistent attitude

The only religious movies I review nowadays are ones that are filled with ambition. Most of the time, I’ve been skipping them, because of how phony and poorly conceived they are. Maybe certain elements of filmmaking would be blasphemy, I don’t know. But I’ve decided to give “Breakthrough” the B.O.T.D.

It’s the true story of a boy named John Smith (Marcel Ruiz from the Netflix version of “One Day at a Time”), who fell through the frozen lake in St. Louis, Missouri, drowned, and was a given another chance of survival thanks to his adopted mother’s prayers.

The mother is Joyce (Chrissy Metz of “This is Us” fame), who begs the Lord to give her son a second chance at life. In the meantime, he’s placed in a coma, and that’s why everyone in the community gets together to support the troubling family in their faith of resurrecting him.

Before we get to the ice story, the movie tells us that the boy was abandoned from his mother as a baby in Guatemala, and has gone distant from Joyce ever since. This type of story has been told so many times on television and movies, and here, it’s given little analysis.

The movie’s cast also includes Josh Lucas as Joyce’s husband, who worries about John’s current state; Topher Grace as a pastor from California, whom she dislikes for his haircut, and how he preaches; Mike Colter as an atheist firefighter who rescues John in the water and hears a voice telling him to keep saying him; Sam Trammel (“True Blood”) as the operating doctor who is surprised that John has a pulse; and Dennis Haysbert as another doctor who suspects that John may not survive the coma.

“Breakthrough” doesn’t try as hard as most religious movies do these days, because of the acting and pacing. The performances from Metz, Lucas, Grace, and Colter are honest and true with their feelings and ambitions; and each actor is given tender moments. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of persistence going on-the elements that parents have for their children.

The reason I’ve stopped going to these types of movies, like the recent hit “Unplanned” is because of how formulaic and cheesy their faith in God is portrayed. The worst examples were “God’s Not Dead,” which was crass on every level, and “Little Boy,” which made absolutely no sense at all. Being that “Breakthrough” is rated PG, we have to hear censors, see basketball games, and routine family dramas.

It has its cliches, but somehow, director Roxann Dawson (“House of Cards,” “The Americans”) allows the film to keep its spirits up at a similar level towards “Heaven is For Real.” I’m no religious fanatic, but this one actually has its heart in the right place.


Categories: Biography, Drama, Family

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