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23 Blast: Movie Review

Chris Carpenter


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“We live by faith, not by sight.” –

These are words that every person of faith should live their life by, especially someone like Travis Freeman, a pastor who is blind.  While leading a church as a sight-impaired man certainly has it’s challenges, Freeman knows first hand of another activity that requires just as much perseverance and courage … playing high school football.

Freeman’s amazing true story is the subject of a new movie releasing in theaters this weekend called 23 Blast.  It is a tale of hope overcoming the deep well of depression, a celebration of the human spirit casting adversity aside.

A straight-ahead film infused with uplifting family values, 23 Blast is directed by Dylan Baker (Spiderman 2), a Hollywood acting veteran who is making his debut behind the lens.


Travis Freeman is a likeable high school football star in a small Kentucky town that worships the exploits of their hometown team.  Sadly, he is suddenly stricken with total, irreversible blindness in the prime of his playing days.  At first he gives up on himself and his future, content to spend his days alone in his bedroom. But the positive influence of loving parents, a best friend who encourages him despite his own shortcomings, a therapist who challenges him, and a coach who believes in him despite his circumstances, Freeman not only returns to the team he loves but leads them to the playoffs.


Mark Hapka (Days of Our Lives) plays the role of Travis Freeman in a manner that is both earnest and sincere.  Even though he looks a bit too old for the part, he does a commendable job of conveying all the confused, muddled emotions that a teenager so suddenly afflicted would be going through.  Hapka easily interacts with his quarterbacking co-star, played by Bram Hoover (90210), who also co-wrote the screenplay.

Stephen Lang (Avatar) does a commendable job as Freeman’s beleaguered football coach but it is Becky Ann Baker (Spiderman 3, Men in Black) who truly stands out as his mobility coach/therapist.  In somewhat of a letdown, Timothy Busfield (Field of Dreams) turns in a cartoonish performance as the meddling athletic director who doesn’t want Freeman to return to the playing field.

Designed to encourage and uplift audiences, 23 Blast does struggle with pacing and dialogue.  In many pivotal scenes that could have easily take the movie to a higher level we are left with exchanges like this between best friends:

Jerry Baker:  What is being blind like?

Travis Freeman: It’s weird.  

In addition, viewers are left to ponder why the suddenly-blind high school football star doesn’t receive a hero’s welcome when he first returns to school.  Instead, Freeman just gets out of the car and walks past several seemingly unaffected classmates into the hallowed halls of his high school.

Parents should be aware that there are several scenes that involve underage drinking. They are certainly within context of the movie, but a potential red flag for some nonetheless.  Thankfully, there is no profanity to be found in 23 Blast’s 98 minutes.  And in an interesting twist, the movie concludes with a profound message of faith.


Despite its shortcomings, 23 Blast is an inspiring story of a young man with the courage to overcome some incredibly difficult obstacles.  Freeman’s life is a fine example of an individual who was unwilling to settle for anything less than a life of victory over adversity.  Even if it doesn’t have the flash and panache of motivational sports dramas like The Blind Side, 23 Blast will certainly have you believing that we must live our lives by faith and not by sight.

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About The Author


Chris Carpenter is the program director for, the official website of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also serves as executive producer for myCBN Weekend, an Internet exclusive webcast show seen on In addition to his regular duties, Chris writes extensively for the website. Over the years, he has interviewed many notable entertainers, athletes, and politicians including Oscar winners Matthew McConaughy and Reese Witherspoon, evangelist Franklin Graham, author Max Lucado, Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy and former presidential hopefuls Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike