Overcomer: Movie Review
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Over the last 15 years, filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick have become quite adept at tapping into what audiences need to see and hear at any given time. In Facing the Giants they challenged audiences to never give up. Fireproof invited people to learn the true meaning of love. Courageous inspired fathers to make a lifelong impact on their children. In War Room, a young couple that seemingly has it all really doesn’t. Only the power of prayer can save their marriage.
Their latest release, Overcomer (releasing in theaters nationwide this weekend) is very much the same. With social media driving people further and further into isolation and “perfectly” staged lives it seems only fitting that this movie delves deeply into a person’s quest to find true identity and self-worth.
Starring Alex Kendrick, Shari Rigby (October Baby), Priscilla Shirer (War Room) and newcomer Aryn Wright-Thompson, Overcomer is also directed by Alex with heavy input from producer/co-writer Stephen Kendrick.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Overcomer tells the story of high school basketball coach John Harrison’s (Alex Kendrick) struggle to maintain normalcy in his life after the local manufacturing plant shuts down. Hundreds of families are forced to leave town, forcing Harrison to squelch his dreams of a state basketball championship. Asked to take over the school’s cross-country team, he is faced with coaching a lone runner (Wright-Thompson) who not only battles asthma but also struggles with her self-worth. Along with his wife (Rigby) Harrison pushes his young athlete toward a journey of discovery, one that eventually leads her to a newfound faith and the answer to a question that has plagued her since birth.
THE GOOD AND BAD IN OVERCOMER
With every new Kendrick Brothers release there is always a new wrinkle that improves the final product to some degree. With a budget 40 percent larger than 2015’s War Room, audiences will see a definite improvement in overall cinematic quality. From using high-end film industry camera lenses to the remarkable drone shot used in the opening scene, this is the most technically polished Kendrick Brothers movie to date.
A hallmark of every Kendrick Brothers movie is their intentional use of humor. Overcomer often soars as several laugh-out loud moments are interwoven into the fabric of the very serious topic of how a person discovers their self-identity. A lack of enthusiasm about coaching cross-country, a lunch lady who doubles as a drama coach, and some overly exuberant dance moves are just a few of the comic twists used to bring levity to the big screen.
Priscilla Shirer returns to work with the Kendricks following her breakout performance in War Room. In Overcomer, the popular author and women’s speaker portrays Olivia Brooks, a high school principal with a compassionate and caring heart for her students. In one pivotal scene, Shirer’s character leads Hannah (Wright-Thompson) to faith in Christ. Interestingly enough, the scene was intentionally designed to serve as a prototype for how to present the Gospel message and pray to receive salvation.
In her movie debut, Wright-Thompson shines as a precociously bashful high school student struggling to find her self-identity. Scarred by a lifetime filled with lies and deception, Wright-Thompson does an excellent job of conveying these emotions onscreen. She is blessed with the ability to demonstrate a great range of emotions just through her body language and facial expressions.
In addition to Shirer and Wright-Thompson, faith-based movie veteran Rigby turns in a solid performance as John Harrison’s wife while Cameron Arnett does a commendable job as a bedridden man trying to make amends for his nefarious past.
The only real negative in Overcomer is plausibility. Many of the scenes involving athletic events seem a bit contrived and far-fetched. From earbuds being used to communicate with runners in a state cross country meet to reviewing a race's outcome via video replay, these things just wouldn't be approved on the high school level. However, as a storytelling device it does create high drama for the viewer.
IN THE END
Overcomer is a movie that dares you to dig deeper into who you really are. Filled with vital reminders of our self-worth through Christ (see Ephesians 1 and 2), the Kendrick Brothers sixth release presents a terrific challenge of determining what truly defines us. This movie is certainly worth the price of admission. See it and take your friends.
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