Reviewed by: Kenneth R. Morefield
How can I know what is right from wrong? Answer
Hypocrisy in the Church—“I would never be a Christian; they’re a bunch of hypocrites.”
Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer
What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer
“I Spy,” “Star Trek: Generations,” “Blue Thunder,” “A Clockwork Orange”
“JAG” TV series
“One Tree Hill” TV series
“Armageddon,” “Remember the Titans,” “The Postman”
“Batman,” “Batman Forever,” “Batman Returns”
Mary Beth Peil
“Flags of Our Fathers,” “The Stepford Wives”
“Ray,” “Glory Road,” “We Are Marshall”
Producer: “The Final Solution” (2002)
|Producer:||Kevin Downes, Korey Scott Pollard, Gary Wheeler, Robert Whitlow, Dale Williams|
|Distributor:||Fox Home Entertainment and List Productions|
Official site: thelist-themovie.com
“In a world of secrets, where evil has reigned for over a hundred years, the power of an ancient covenant will change the life of one man forever.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “After the battle of Gettysburg, a small group of South Carolina plantation owners realize that the fall of the Confederacy is inevitable. Coming together on a stormy night at the Rice Planter’s Inn in Georgetown, S.C., they formulated a desperate plan to smuggle gold and silver to safe havens in Europe. Out of this meeting is born a secret society known as The Covenant List of South Carolina, Ltd. One man opposes them. Discerning an evil seed in The List, a weather-beaten prophet tries to warn his friends and neighbors. Ignored, he predicts that one of his descendants will call down the judgment of Almighty God on the wicked plans of greedy men. The List succeeds. Decades pass. The respective interests of each family are passed through the generations from father to son. The amount of money now under control of The List is enormous. It remains secret; it grows more sinister. The prophecy lies dormant.
Renny Jacobson, a young Charlotte lawyer, learns that his father has suddenly died. Returning home to Charleston, Renny is shocked to discovery that his father bequeathed his significant estate to charity, only leaving Renny an interest in an unknown, obscure entity—The Covenant List of South Carolina, Ltd. Renny is contacted by The List. Along with a beautiful young woman named Jo Johnston. Renny is caught in a web of intrigue, deception, greed and spiritual warfare that reaches from the steamy coasts of South Carolina to the secret vaults of Swiss banks.” See official movie site for trailer and more information.
“The List” is an earnest attempt to adapt a work of Christian Fiction to the big screen and provide serviceable cinematic entertainment for Christian audiences longing for films with positive portrayals of faith. Nothing would please me more than to say it is every bit as good a major studio release, especially since I have little doubt that it’s earnestness and modest production values will cause some to dismiss it. Others, I’m sure, will allow their enthusiasm for the idea of a film by Christians and for Christians to blind them to the film’s shortcomings. An honest appraisal of the film will probably fall somewhere between these two poles.
Based on the novel by Robert Whitlow, “The List” is a cross between a John Grisham thriller and an early Frank Peretti allegory. The main character is Renny Jacobsen (Chuck Carrington), who learns upon his father’s death that he has inherited a portion of the “Covenant List of South Carolina”—a collection of assets pooled from and invested for various confederate families and their descendants in the wake of their civil war defeat. Renny is given ample clues that not everything involving the list is what it appears—he has to give his bloody thumbprint as a seal to his membership—but the prospect of immense wealth keeps him from simply dismissing the other members as kooks and getting back to work, even when they deny his budding love interest, Jo (Hilarie Burton) her share of the inheritance simply because she is a woman.
Stacked up against a commercial studio release, “The List” falls short in terms of production values and technical competence. Even a relatively simple visual scene, such as the conversation between Renny and Mama A evidences a lack of facility with basic elements of film editing such as continuity of perspective and camera angle. Remy’s office looks not like a busy law firm but an empty one used as a film set, and exteriors are often shot with the tight framing characteristic of small budget, independent films that can’t shut down locations to the public or orchestrate lots of extras. The plot lurches in points, with the romantic storyline, family history, and suspense storyline not being integrated particularly well and mostly being unraveled through the sorts of expository dialogue that can work in a book but tends to make film audiences restless.
Will the target audience care? Probably not. If Christian fiction (or Christian film) is understood as primarily a marketing descriptor, then “The List” holds up against other entries in the genre. Its messages are pretty ecumenical—prayer is good and has the power to deliver you from evil; relationships are more important than money; stifling the voice of conscience is a spiritually risky proposition—and there is at least an attempt to gild them onto the plot rather than simply present them at the end as object lessons. The acting is also above average for the genre, with Carrington and Burton both making the best out of roles that give them plenty of back story but not much personality.
One odd feature of “The List,” from a Christian fiction perspective, is the lack of a clear, discernible conversion from the lead character. We see a number of people praying for Renny, and then we see him march up to nemesis Desmond Larochette (Malcolm McDowell) and proclaim that his power over Renny is broken. In the absence of some sort of invocation accompanying this speech, I’m not sure anyone who wasn’t already an evangelical Christian would understand how or why Renny’s spiritual bondage has come to be broken. (One might even assume that Renny freed himself from Desmond’s power through the exercise of his own willpower.) Then again, I’m not sure anyone who wasn’t already an evangelical Christian would be screening the film in the first place.
My Grade: C
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
DVD details are available in our Christian Film News site
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.