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Overcomer, the Kendrick Brothers’ new release, is billed “from the creators of War Room.” That 2015 film reached No. 1 in its second week at the box office. But look for the next movie that Alex and Stephen make to be marketed as “from the creators of Overcomer.” Genuine and compelling, Overcomer is the Kendricks’ best effort yet.
At a Christian school, basketball coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) finds himself coaching a cross-country team with only one participant, Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thompson), who has asthma. Hannah has lived with her grandmother (Denise Armstrong) since infancy, and she hides a sinful secret. Other characters also struggle with grief and sin. John prioritizes sports success over everything else. Thomas (Cameron Arnett), hospitalized and dying, regrets selfish choices that have hurt many people.
Overcomer doesn’t feel stretched thin, though, but ably handles the overlapping stories. Characters begin to confront their own shortcomings in the light of Biblical truth and with prayer. John and his wife Amy (Shari Rigby) often fall on their knees.
Overcomer (rated PG for thematic elements) notably frames the plot on four vital African American characters, including that of a delightful Wright-Thompson, who makes her acting debut. The light humor goes over well except for some of the recurring bits with a drama teacher, the film’s only awkward spots.
The most moving scene arrives not at a finish line but when a character comes to faith and discovers, while reading Ephesians 1 and 2, a liberating new identity in Christ. So, you’ll read critics pounding “Preachy!” from their newspaper pulpits. Sure, there are some “smoothly engineered epiphanies,” as one reviewer snickered. Believers agree, in fact, although we use terms like providence and grace. Another naysayer balked at the way the film “overtly expounds on God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice.” Warmly and authentically, but indeed it does.
So listen up! That Hollywood’s reviewers, patrons, or celebrities would be better off running life’s race without Jesus is a misjudgment some folks need to overcome.