Reviewed by: Tim Curran
“Planned Parenthood’s Newest Report Exposes Its Lies” (ACLJ 2018 article—American Center for Law & Justice)
Transformation and humbling of the human mind and heart
|Featuring:||Ashley Bratcher … Abby Johnson
Brooks Ryan … Doug
Robia Scott … Cheryl
Jared Lotz … Shawn
Emma Elle Roberts … Marilisa
Robin DeMarco … Kathleen
Robert Thomason … Mike
Tina Toner … Renee
Sarah Hernandez … Elena
Maura Corsini … Megan
Lezl Gonzales … Taylor
Kaiser Johnson … Jeff
Andee Grace Burton … Grace
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Pure Flix Entertainment
Soli Deo Gloria Releasing
“What she saw changed everything”
Pureflix is back again, bringing to theaters what is in all likelihood their most controversial film yet. This production documents an eight year span of time in the life of Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. A project tackling the grievous subject of abortion is bound to draw attention, and this movie is no exception. I know I wasn’t alone in anxiously anticipating its theatrical release.
With tactful but gritty realism, the film takes the viewer through the highlights of Abby’s career with PP, showing her success in climbing the organization’s leadership ladder, until a fateful face-to-face encounter with the grim truth of the actions that daily take place in her workplace.
The picture, dealing with a lot of sobering content, is almost devoid of humorous moments, and I believe that’s because this film isn’t meant to entertain us, but to rather reveal the hideously evil, grotesque monster that is abortion. The filmmakers, in doing this, are mirroring the decisions of Allied troops in WW2 to escort German citizens through the liberated Nazi death camps so they could personally witness the wickedness they’d turned a blind eye to in their own backyards. This film is very careful and clever in visualizing the issue of abortion, but as I’ve detailed below, still delves into very dark, violent places.
At the beginning, I was taken aback by the methodology used to present Abby Johnson’s story. It took nearly an hour of viewing before I realized their intent was to portray everything transpiring through Abby’s eyes as she understood it, despite the wrongness of her thinking at that time. So, don’t be put off by what appears to be a flippant manner of handling an extremely delicate topic. Instead, watch the events of Abby’s Planned Parenthood unfold as a silent viewer of her misguided ambitions.
This film, as has been widely mentioned in the media, social and otherwise, is rated “R.” While I do understand that this was likely a calculated move by the MPAA to sabotage the theatrical success of the picture, having seen it, I’d say that the movie borders right on the edge of a heavy PG-13 to Restricted rating. The act of abortion is unequivocally “R” rated. I categorized it as “Heavy,” because child sacrifice is horrific and not to be taken lightly.
Violence and Disturbing Material: In the first five minutes or so, the most violent and sickening scene transpires, one that those following this movie’s journey to the big screen are familiar with, namely the CGI visualization of an abortion on an ultrasound screen. The viewer watches as a baby’s life is literally sucked away. During the sequence, tubes are seen carrying blood, bodily fluids and pieces of human flesh from the womb. This shot takes place again at a later point in the film.
A character takes an abortifacient pill, and the effects are portrayed in a realistic fashion, with blood draining down her legs, momentary shot of baby body parts on a shower floor, and puking. The camera slowly pans over the scene at the end for some seconds, and the bloody aftermath is revealed.
Abortion protesters are seen holding a sign twice with a graphic image of a dead baby on it, but this is seen at a distance. There is a shot where the protagonist examines an aborted baby up close, but no blood is shown. A dramatic scene documents a botched abortion in very bloody detail, as a girl is seen hemorrhaging. Blood is seen on a Planned Parenthood worker’s shoes, and her little daughter questions her about it.
The first half or so of the movie contains extensive disturbing and troubling scenes of a verbal and visual nature that all revolve around the subject of abortion. No matter what your views are on this social issue, you will at some point find this film unsettling and likely highly upsetting. You’ll probably get emotional too, so bring some tissue.
Profanity: “D*mn” (1), “H*ll” (1), “Oh my G*d” (3)
Crude language: “Kick some a**” (1), “Scr*wed” (1), “P***ed off” (3)
Nudity: A woman is briefly seen in a tank top and reveals cleavage when she bends over for a couple seconds. A character wears a very tight dress in one scene, and, in another, a woman is garbed in an off-the-shoulder outfit, but shows no cleavage. In a fairly lengthy sequence, a female is shown wearing nothing but a long t-shirt that at one point almost exposes her rear.
Sexual Content: An unmarried couple kiss once and disappear into a room—implying intercourse. Two married people embrace at one point. A married couple is seen in bed together twice, fully clothed. The dialog includes mentions of sex, periods, the pill, fornication, and adultery. A man tells a pregnant girl that, “… you couldn’t keep your legs closed.” A couple discuss plans for the day, and the woman says, “I might get lucky,” referring to the possibility of sex. There are a number of mature conversations that take place, understandably so, due to the subject matter covered in this movie.
Alcohol: A man is seen on a couch with a beer in his hand and others on the table before him. A married couple are portrayed as social drinkers, but never shown in a state of drunkenness.
Christians speak of the power of prayer and are seen holding prayer vigils in the movie, following the directing of the Bible (Philippians 4:6-7).
Some anti-abortion protesters unrighteously taunt and harass staff and clients at the clinic, but their behavior is correctly condemned by a Christian woman (Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 5:44).
A pastor rightly quotes from Psalm 139:14 in a sermon about the sanctity of human life. Though not used in the film, Jeremiah 1:5 is another excellent verse that pertains to the issue. A female character erroneously refers to a baby as just a fetus, in direct contrast to these Scriptures.
One secular character, in particular, deals with and speaks of the murder of the unborn in such sickeningly cold and unemotional terms, with no visible signs of remorse, that it reminded me of the Bible passage that talks of those who have seared their consciences (1 Timothy 4:2). In contrast, a repentant woman mentions that her conscience will not allow her to continue engaging in sinful acts.
In a prayer, a Christian character quotes from 2 Chronicles 7:14, in speaking of the need of our nation to repent of our wicked ways.
A Christian man makes an attempt to be blameless before man by documenting the peaceful protestations of his fellow believers, so that he can dispel the notion that they are violent, antagonistic, or in any other way, unChristlike towards those who frequent the Planned Parenthood clinic (Acts 24:16).
A woman is shown in a state of utter contrition and brokenness (Psalm 51:17) over the knowledge and weight of her sin. Her husband correctly counsels that only humble repentance can lift this burden (Acts 3:19), and she then seeks the forgiveness only Christ can bestow on us.
At various times in the film, Christians display the unfathomable love of Christ as spoken of so beautifully in God’s Word (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
A female character speaks of not loving her aborted children enough to carry them to term, which accurately acknowledges the selfish, sinful motivations that are part of the root cause of abortions.
Pureflix continues to step up their game with each new movie they release. “Unplanned,” though filmed in secret, is skillfully crafted. The plot and character development leave little to criticize. The actors all perform believably.
I was pleased to see that the creators didn’t strive to demonize one side while sainting the other one in a cartoonish manner. Instead they honestly portrayed the naivety of so many Planned Parenthood employees to realities of their job, and also conveyed the sometimes unbecoming and wrong behavior of those broadly termed “pro-lifers.” They also were able to avoid being heavy-handed and preachy when broaching spiritual aspects, which will make the film easier to invite unbelieving friends to, knowing they’re not in for just a 2 hour sermon. There is only a single point in the movie where I believe things were pushed a little too hard during a conversation, but that was on a political level, not a spiritual one.
There are several behaviors that the protagonist displays that cause contention among different groups of Christians. The viewer might also take issue with the seeming nonchalance of some believing characters towards serious matters. This production isn’t depicting things as they should be, but rather as they were. I urge you not to get hung-up on these side issues, but to focus on the larger picture, the topic of abortion.
I can, with a clear conscience, recommend this movie to other Christians for viewing, but not without caution. This is not a film for young children. Because so many young people are customers of Planned Parenthood in this nation today, I would say this is a must-see picture for teens and adults. If you’ve got misgivings about being able to handle the emotional impact of the most upsetting parts, wait until the DVD is released and view it at home. For everyone else, ask God if there is anyone in your life that needs to see this movie, and then invite them to the theater with you. Yes, being disturbed is expected, but, remember, if you are, how much more so must the Lord be grieved by this nation’s wickedness?
Fox & Friend interview: “Actress’ pro-life movie role leads to a shocking revelation”
Actress Ashley Bratcher was nearly aborted by her own mother, which she didn’t find out until filming began. “I was born for this role,” said Bratcher.
The film’s co-writer/co-director Cary Solomon says, “The [MPAA] standard used to rate our movie is being applied inconsistently as it relates to bloody images on-screen. In fact, [the new slasher murder film] ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ has far more blood and gore than our film, and it received a PG-13 rating. And the blood in ‘Unplanned’ is in no way gratuitous.”
The U.S. Senate’s Judicial Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), hosted a hearing (April 10, 2019), titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technology Censorship and the Public Discourse,” which addressed whether social media giant Twitter and other tech companies are censoring conservative speech, including UNPLANNED. Chuck Konzelman, the film’s co-director/producer/co-writer testified.
Making matters worse, Hirsen noted that “…the Christian music giant K-LOVE [essentially] banned from its airwaves any promotion for ‘Unplanned’.” Abby Johnson reports that K-LOVE’s response was “that they don’t want to promote anything ‘political’.”
And in AUSTRALIA: “Do you know what is one of the most revealing films that won’t be shown in AUSTRALIAN cinemas this year? It’s the movie UNPLANNED, even though it’s currently trending in the top five movies in the United States.” See: “Ten reasons why we’re being denied the truth about Planned Parenthood” in the Spectator [Australia] (off-site—April 4, 2019)
Article of interest: “Still Lying: Planned Parenthood repeats (and repeats) debunked claim on illegal abortion deaths” (off-site—April 4, 2019)
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.