Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
What to do when you life suddenly changes overnight
Feeling crushed under the weight of unexpected news
Facing discouragement and depression
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
Put God FIRST in your life
Alex Kendrick says,
“God loves you the most, knows you the best, and has the authority to tell you who you are. Why would we let feelings—or anything that changes—tell us who we are? Those things can be stripped away. There is an anchor that you can lock onto that is unchanging. That’s the character of Jesus Christ.”
What is the IDENTITY of a true follower of Christ?
Overcoming life’s obstacles
Being inspired by the words and prayers of others
Mentoring others to assist them in living a successful life
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
Alex Kendrick … John Harrison
Priscilla C. Shirer … Olivia Brooks
Kendrick Cross … Ken Jones
Holly A. Morris … Cindy Hatcher
Shari Rigby … Amy Harrison
Cameron Arnett … Thomas Hill
Ben Davies … Coach Myers
Aryn Wright-Thompson … Hannah Scott
Elizabeth Becka … Mrs. Charles
See all »
See all »
Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures
“What do you allow to define you?”
John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) is coming off of a strong season coaching high school basketball, and his expectations for next season are even stronger. That all changes when the local manufacturing plant unexpectedly closes down, causing many of the players’ parents to relocate for new jobs. Of course, John isn’t happy about this.
Losing a few coaches as well in the process, principal Olivia Brooks (Priscilla Shirer) assigns John to coach cross country, a sport he’s reluctant to take on. On the day of tryouts, only one young girl shows. An asthmatic named Hannah Scott (Aryn-Wright Thompson). Of course, John wonders what God is trying to do in this situation. But, little does he know that God has amazing plans for these two in this coming journey.
“Overcomer” was made on a higher budget than previous Kendrick Brothers/Sherwood Pictures productions, and it shows. The cinematography, lighting, editing and production values are all more reminiscent of a big-studio film. There’s more professional sets here, too. Unlike their previous films, the sets were built instead of using other houses or locations.
The story is centered around two characters, and for the most part, the script does a great job giving them both pathos and development. However, in between the first and second acts, the film focuses more on John, and Hannah disappears for a little bit. This is intentional, as it was necessary for John’s growth. However, once John starts training Hannah, the story shifts onto her (mostly) the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the film’s final third is when it really runs full steam ahead and earns its ending cheers and emotional moments.
The acting is mostly spot-on. In his fourth time leading a film, Kendrick creates a human character and believably shows John’s struggles with change and finding what identifies him. As Hannah, Thompson is very solid. She convincingly shows different facets of emotion, from when she’s lost and hopeless to when she’s found God and is filled with His love. Shari Rigby (“October Baby”) gets a handful of strong moments as John’s wife, while Shirer takes a backseat here in her role as Principal Brooks. She’s friendly and plays a big role in a couple of scenes, but overall she falls a little short in terms of emotional depth. Meanwhile, Cameron Arnett shines in several scenes as a hospital patient John visits.
As usual, the Kendricks infuse a sense of humor into the story, and it does earn some very solid laughs. For me, I didn’t find the jokes here to be memorable like “Courageous” and “War Room” before it. But, that’s not a bad thing per se. Paul Mills gives an orchestral score that nicely accompanies the film’s proceedings. Some Christian songs make their way in, with some being good fits, and a couple of them lingering on a little long.
The film’s main theme is identity, and what defines us. John is asked, “Who are you?” by the hospital patient. He names several things that come to mind, and only names “Christian” after naming 5-10 other things. The patient says, “Something or someone will have first place in your heart. But, when you find your identity in the one who created You, it will change your perspective on everything”.
This strong message extends to Hannah, who comes to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior about mid-way through the film. She’s encouraged to look at Ephesians 1-2, in which she writes a list of all she is through Jesus. Ephesians 2 has a verse that clearly explains that we are God’s creation and His children:
1 Peter also discusses who we are in Christ, and why it’s important to claim our identity in Him.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” -1 Peter 2:9
Foul Language: None.
Violence: Three teen boys chase Hannah in the forest. John smashes a brick against the ground. Someone verbally threatens John and his wife.
Adult Content: None, but it is suggested that one character was born out of wedlock.
Drugs/Alcohol: It’s discussed at a couple of points that a couple got hooked onto drugs. Another character says he got addicted to meth. These are not glorified in any way.
Other: Hannah steals a few items (but later returns them with apology notes). Judges comically (and slightly rudely) critique students doing drama monologues. John yells at his wife at one point.
For over a decade, the Kendrick Brothers have succeeded at creating emotionally-driven stories with God-honoring values. Each story had a distinct focus. “Flywheel” was on one man’s journey from selfishness to embracing God and Biblical traits. “Facing the Giants” was on a football coach’s determination to face his fears and leave it all in God’s hands. “Fireproof” was on a deteriorating marriage and God helping restore it. “Courageous” was about fathers learning to become stronger and more Godly examples for their family. And “War Room” was about the power of prayer and how God can move through it.
“Overcomer” tackles the idea of identity in Christ. It’s a personal, realistic story that examines the effects of those who put God first and those who put other things in front of Him. Through John and Hannah, we see two characters who come to understand who they are in Christ, and how that affects their lives on many levels.
This is also a bit of a different movie than at least the last two the brothers directed. “War Room” and “Courageous” both had more of a soul-convicting message that shone clear in the ending, while “Overcomer” takes the sports movie route for its final act, with a character-driven finale that works with its story progression rather than just the message by itself.
For me, it’s not my favorite movie that they’ve made, but that’s not intended to be a discouragement. Because, in all other ways, “Overcomer” is still a very good movie that merits a recommendation. It will make you laugh, cheer, and maybe just cry a bit also. Here’s to hoping this will generate enough business to keep these films coming!
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.