Reviewed by: Scott Brennan
angry with God
healing deep emotional wounds
extending and receiving God’s grace
What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer
How can we know there’s a God? Answer
What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer
Why was Hell made? Answer
Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer
Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? Answer
What should you be willing to do to stay out of Hell? Answer
How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer
What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer
THE GOOD NEWS—How to be saved from Hell. Answer
|Featuring:|| Michael Joiner—Bill “Mac” McDonald
Mike Higgenbottom—Sam Wright (as Michael Higgenbottom)
Louis Gossett Jr.—George Wright
Cindy Hodge—Dr. Vines
|Director:||David G. Evans|
|Producer:||Timothy D. Brown—associate producer
Lynn Holmes—executive producer
John R. Saunders—producer
|Distributor:||Samuel Goldwyn Films|
“Witness the power of forgiveness”
“The Grace Card” is about a man (Mac) who became a police officer after his 5-year-old son was hit by a fleeing African-American drug dealer. Mac (comedian/actor Michael Joiner) blames himself for the accident that happened in his own neighborhood. Thinking he might prevent such a travesty from happening to another family became a motivation for his joining the force, but his unresolved feelings only complicate his new career. Misguided emotions cause him to lash out at his wife and his second son, over the years, creating a crisis of alienation that comes to full fruition in the film.
The setting begins when Mac is teamed up with an African-American officer named Sam (newcomer Michael Higgenbottom), who happens to pastor a church part-time, as well. To add fuel to Mac’s fire, Sam gets a promotion to sergeant—skipping right past Mac—who’d already been recently overlooked for advancement.
Sam consults his grandfather (Louis Gossett Jr.) for advice on his own quest for the right path in his life—to make a difference—be it pastor or police officer. Enter the delicate fabric of serendipity—like only God can weave into life in order “to work out all things for good” (Romans 8:28).
With that setup, the themes become obvious, but they are not limited to “race issues” in the Deep South. Instead, they go much deeper, and include race, redemption, forgiveness, family, poverty, life, and death. The film is ambitious, and some may argue handles too much, but, just like the recent script from “To Save a Life,” the screenplay (nicely done by Howard A. Klausner, “Space Cowboys”) integrates them all with relative ease.
Samuel Goldwyn Co. has been a strong backer for faith-based films (“Fireproof” / “To Save a Life”), and they didn’t disappoint with their distribution of this weekend’s “The Grace Card,” another Christian indie seemingly destined to join the ranks of “Facing the Giants,” with its impressive opening weekend box office—entering the top 20 of all time for a Christian film—and in the top 15 films competing in the secular market this Oscar® weekend of 2011.
“For it is by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) is what truly stands out in this film, in ways that you don’t anticipate. In reflection upon this year’s past films during this Oscar® Eve, I recall the line and theme from “The King’s Speech,” “I have a voice,” which had a powerful punch, or the gritty determination of the young Mattie in “True Grit” seeking justice for her father’s murderer, with biblical determination—both strong films. But I can honestly say that it’s a simple film like this one which can often become a world changer for the believer. These are the kinds of films we long to see, even if they don’t have a multi-million dollar budget. “The Grace Card” has a lot of true grit, and it definitely has a voice.
THE GRACE CARD has some raw CSI-cop-show type scenes including some intense violence, racism and drug references, similar to those in “The Blind Side,” or perhaps a Tyler Perry film. There are some police chase scenes, involving criminals, where weapons are drawn and fearful situations surface. A few of those scenes involve blood and have intense action that earn the PG-13 rating. As to sexual situations or nudity, there are none, except the upper torso of Mac’s teenage son in an ambulance.
I counted one “for God’s sakes,” and two casual uses of “Oh Lord,” but there was no cussing or any obscenities—even in scenes where it could easily have been inserted. The bad language doesn’t have to be there—and it isn’t. That is refreshing.
The direction falls short, at times, with some awkward cuts and scene changes, but, overall, it passes the test. The film is a strong entry for first time director Dr. David Evans, who formed Graceworks Pictures and partnered with Calvary church to produce this work of love. There is a strong supporting cast, many of them volunteers from the local Memphis-area Calvary church, and although the film is formula and predictable, to the point of suspending disbelief beyond the norm, it still works.
“I promise to pray for you every day, ask your forgiveness, grant you the same, and be your friend always” is the statement that becomes the Grace Card. Where this comes from, and how it’s played out in the film, is for you to find out. Although it has a slow and somewhat choppy beginning (acceptable for a first-time director), it leads to one of the more remarkable and emotional endings I’ve seen in a film in a long time—Christian or secular! It is heartfelt and believable, and one that has a lot of staying power. If we as believers are willing to use “the grace card” and not “the race card” (race as a “catch all” for anything we disagree with), more of the world might possibly hear the message of the gospel—one of forgiveness and love—that invites every sinner to repentance, and to freely receive the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus.
“City on Our Knees” (Toby Mack), one of the many great songs used in the film soundtrack, has the following lyric:
In the movie “The Grace Card,” two worlds do collide in Memphis, TN in a beautiful display of God’s love. It will move you deeply, and challenge you spiritually. If you don’t leave the theater in repentance for some past-harbored-resentments, or better yet, with a desire to go out into the world and extend “The Grace Card” to someone who needs it in your daily life, you may want to examine yourself, and see if you are still in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
I urge mature (only) Christian audiences everywhere to see this film! Put it out on your social networks, not just as a tacit acknowledgement to Samuel Goldwyn Co. for distributing it (which we should), or as an act of appreciation to the dedicated group of our brothers and sisters in Christ who made the film (which we should also), but more importantly, that the Holy Spirit might cause those of us he desires to see the film, to grow—ever more deeply—in the understanding of grace.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.