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MOVIE REVIEW

Overcomer

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Family • Teens • Young-Adults • Adults
Genre:
Christian Sports Drama
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2019
USA Release:
August 23, 2019 (wide—1,723 theaters)
Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures

What to do when you life suddenly changes overnight

Feeling crushed under the weight of unexpected news

Prayer

Faith

For a follower of Christ, what is LOVE—a feeling, an emotion, or an action? Answer

Facing discouragement and depression

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

Put God FIRST in your life

Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures

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.”

Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures

What is the IDENTITY of a true follower of Christ?

  • We were spiritually dead, in trespasses and sins, unknowingly following the leadership of Satan—focused on selfish wordly desires and lusts and doomed to face God’s wrath and eternal death. BUT, He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.
  • “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We are not just cleaned up or covered over; we are new.
  • We are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). We are free. Our sins are forever forgiven.
  • We are redeemed through His blood. We are forever reconciled to God through the cross.
  • He bestowed great kindness, grace and love upon us so that we are no longer God’s enemies (Romans 5:10). We are now acceptable to God through Christ. We are now “the people of God.”
  • We did not merit this; by grace you have been saved through faith; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
  • He changed us from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4-5) and a part of the great spiritual Kingdom of God.
  • NO LONGER ALONE—doomed and lonely strangers to God, we are now part of the most wonderful family—fellow citizens (Eph. 2:19) of the Kingdom of God with millions of other true followers of Christ.
  • We are like living stones, each special and irreplaceable—part of a cohesive whole (1 Cor. 12:18), that God is using to build up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood with Christ as the chief cornerstone.
  • Through Christ, we have access by the Holy Spirit to the Father (Trinity).
  • We are ADOPTED AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS (Gal. 3:26) by Jesus Christ to Himself, the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe.
  • As adopted children of The King of Kings, we are royalty, and we are guaranteed a rich and glorious inheritance which is sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • He gives us true hope; before Him, we had no hope.
  • Christ is our peace. Our new self is at peace with God (Romans 5:1).
  • The great battle between darkness and light in our universe and the spiritual realm, will be decisively won by God. We are on the winning side.
  • We will be gathered together with him in Heaven for all eternity in paradise.
  • God values our praise for His glory.
  • If we seek spiritual knowledge, wisdom and prudence, He enlightens us and richly provides it.
  • We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Copyright, Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures

Overcoming life’s obstacles

Being inspired by the words and prayers of others

Mentoring others to assist them in living a successful life

Issue of suffering

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

Featuring: Alex KendrickJohn Harrison
Priscilla C. ShirerOlivia Brooks
Kendrick CrossKen Jones
Holly A. Morris … Cindy Hatcher
Shari RigbyAmy Harrison
Cameron ArnettThomas Hill
Ben Davies … Coach Myers
Aryn Wright-Thompson … Hannah Scott
Elizabeth Becka … Mrs. Charles
See all »
Director: Alex Kendrick
Producer: Provident Films
Affirm Films
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures. Trademark logo.
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.

Entertainment Quality

“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.

Positive Messages

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”.

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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:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” —Ephesians 2:10

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

Negative Content

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.

Conclusion

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!

Link to official Web siteOfficial site for more information

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—The Kendrick brothers have created another great movie. This movie addresses so many critical topics—how do we define ourselves, how do we deal with loss, forgiveness and redemption. It is the story of a 15 year old girl living with her bitter grandmother and how Jesus can turn lives around. Please go see this movie to continue to encourage clean, feel-good movies to be made. I promise you will enjoy this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
C. Nelson, age 59 (USA)
PositiveVery moving and inspiring movie. I cried and also noticed I was sweating at the end. This is usually a sign that it’s an engaging movie.

The gospel is presented in the purest clearest form of all in the series that I can recall.

I especially liked the way they portrayed the coaches family. Kids were obedient, open to talk and listened to their parents. Parents prayed openly as kids observed. Parents worked through hard situation together.

Good family movie movie especially for kids around high school age.

By the way, if you have not watched all the film’s in this series, they are all excellent and I highly recommend watching all. Here they are in order of release: “Flywheel,” “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof,” “Courageous,” “War Room,” “Overcomer”.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Brett, age 42 (USA)
Positive—“Overcomer” is a heartwarming story of second chances. We laughed, cried and just plain enjoyed the movie. Many important themes are touched on while the film brings home the importance of understanding our true identity in Christ. The subjects of bitterness, regret, disappointment, loyalty and diligence come up as the story progresses. Forgiveness is an underlying element throughout the film as it clearly shows the healing power experienced when we forgive others.

The central character Hannah Scott is well played by Aryn Wright-Thompson. Hannah learns much about life, faith and herself in the process of training to become a cross country runner. The people surrounding her also grow in their own lives and it’s good to see familiar faces from other Kendrick Brothers films in the supporting cast. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Stephanie, age 59 (USA)
PositiveSeriously awesome movie. Watching movies that directly proclaim the Gospel and therefore glorify Jesus is absolutely amazing.

I used to watch secular Hollywood movies in the theater’s before, however after the last one (Wonder Woman) that left me utterly displeased, I can only thank God that as a family we have not watched another secular movie on the Big Screens (at home we have, but not in the theaters).

“Overcomer” had a very good aftertaste, whereby I was thrilled by the contrast of how Christian movies are pure (even though by the world’s standards they’re weak, so that God is even more glorified), as opposed to Hollywood movies. Definitely recommend believers go and watch this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Neil, age 25 (Canada)
Positive—My husband and I went to see this movie last night. I loved it! It was such an enjoyable experience—a blessing really. Not just because it was a well done film, but because of the strong uplifting content and soul deep messages. I laughed, I cried, and I experienced the Lord’s presence in this film. I pray the Lord blesses the Kendrick brothers in their work and that they keep producing movies!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Laura, age 56 (USA)
Positive—Thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Never saw a trailer, but my daughter and daughter-in-law saw it and highly recommended it. Took the wife and glad we went. The acting was good, the storyline was slow but excellent. This isn’t a Hollyweird phony action flick, but a story about trials and tribulations and how to deal with them. Great job, hope to see more.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Dennis, age 65 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—The story line for this movie is well done. The theme is great. It is nice to see the Kendrick brothers use godly themes and ideas to convey a story. The film quality and the acting are still on a B level. There is one point in the movie where the camera was shaking. It takes away from the scene. The overall look seems more like a made for TV movie than a Hollywood film. There are many secular films that were low budget with huge success like “Rocky.” The actress Aryn Wright-Thompson is flat and stiff in her acting. She is a key character and has no affect in some pivotal points in the picture. I had a hard time believing her.

I enjoyed this picture as a nice feel-good Christian movie. It is positive and encouraging. The movie quality is lacking, but it is family-friendly, and the whole family can see it. The message is very encouraging to believers. We all need to be reminded that our identity is in Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 2
Karen, age 49 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Awful. Those giving it positive reviews appear to be doing so based on the message. The problem is that the delivery is poor. The movie is emotionally driven without substance. The Christian message does not really appear until the last fourth of the film. Take out the sporadic Christian, even generic, religious references in the majority of the movie and it would be no different than a secular movie until around the last fourth of the film. When a character mentioned a “pastor,” I was almost shocked—”They go to church?” There was nothing indicating that these were religious or church attendees up to that point in the movie.

The production comes off as weak. In one dialog scene a character is repeating information from the immediately preceding scene. In most, if not all professionally produced movies, this would have been cut, being considered redundant. This issue with redundancy occurs through the movie, and causes the production to look amateurish. After a character is told that people are leaving the school due to economic reasons, the plot is repeatedly interrupted with scenes of the coach saying good-bye to people departing. This, and other such redundancies, are a reason the movie is almost 2 hours and has been bloated (this is also caused by a subplot that comes out of nowhere concerning drama students that is supposed to be played for humor, but falls flat). Remove the unnecessary information and there could have been a trimmer film. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
Michael, age 45 (USA)
Negative—Very disappointing. The boundaries that were crossed. You should never over rule the parental authority of that girl. Her grandmother let her pain turn to bitterness, but it is not Biblical to step in and do that. We all make choices that we regret, but it is not ever our place to pretend to be the Holy Spirit. It should be the Lord who causes and reconciliation and there should have been boundaries and counseling for reunification with the grandmother’s permission.

The addict dad abdicated the throne of parenthood by his choices, and the grandmother picked it up and provided. And that whole thing is just wrong and disrespectful. I can see how it is going to lead a lot of people down the wrong road and possibly cause harm to many children left hurting. It is just wrong and not Scriptural. I am very disappointed and saddened.
Arlene Broadie, age 62

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