Every year, there’s hardly a handful of Christian films that I run into, and I can’t help but worry about how they’ll be made because the heavy-handed Christian message in most films overpower any artistic passion other Hollywood filmmakers naturally have. Continually, I hold out hope that that’s not always the case, and every once in a blue moon, I see the glint of artistic passion in a Christian film, and Breakthrough is one of those movies. Let’s break it down.
BREAKTHROUGH is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction20th Century Fox
First of all, let me just point out that this movie has a lot going for it. You can tell right out of the gate that there was impressive camerawork that worked closely with the editing team, and these two combined elements helped to sell the theme of the film. They aren’t always there, but nothing about the editing or camerawork is ever terrible or distracting, either, which is something you’d often find in these movies. Also, the added implement of the ultra-wide resolution helped the film immediately feel that much more cinematic and like a typical Hollywood movie versus something strictly religious. Beyond that, when it comes down to typical Christian films, this movie basically has an ensemble, all-star cast. Heck, even the music choices were pretty good half the time, as they got pretty gutsy and chose a few secular songs here and there…albeit censored secular songs, but let’s not split hairs, here. Oh yeah, and they cussed! A couple of times, very light cussing, but cussing nonetheless. There was some truly smart moves when it came to structuring this film like a real, genuine film, which is so refreshing, you have no idea.
But, it is a Christian film, and there are certain cringe-worthy tropes you can’t escape from, regardless on how good you get the technical elements. There were tropes that I could forgive as well as tropes I couldn’t, one in particular really frustrated me to no end, and that was a scene at church in the beginning of the movie where it showcased an entire song and the main point of the message. Real movies don’t do that because the pacing is horrible when they do. At what point in the title does it say “Featuring Such-and-Such Band as the Musical Guest”? It doesn’t, because church scenes in most films are almost a background setting, not a major plot device, which takes you out of it, I swear. What do we learn in this scene, anyway? That apparently Jesus is exactly like The Bachelor. Thanks, Pastor Topher Grace! Hey, all I said was it had an all-star cast, not that the characters made sense with the casting choices.
That was really the only trope I had issues with, though, as the other tropes were apparently true-to-life, and this was a film based on a true story, and these tropes were actually essential to the plot direction. Plus, there was no other way to tell this story but through the perspective of faith and miracles, because the doctors had absolutely no clue as to what was going on with this kid (at least that’s how the movie painted it) which made the content of the film that much stronger. I’d say that this movie had a better time convincing me that God exists than any of the God’s Not Dead series did. In fact, even though the Christian agenda was in full affect, I do believe they gave credit to doctors and first responders, as well, for doing their part in keeping this boy alive. A major pet peeve of mine is when Christians credit God for every good thing that happens, like nobody has the ability to do absolutely anything on their own.
As I said on my Twitter, I think that, even with the problems it has with typical Christian tropes, the movie still ends up being the best of both worlds because it actually tries to be good. They took their time finding a director of photography, a good editor, a great cast, and to be honest, an inspirational story that almost doesn’t work without a religious angle. The movie works for what it is.
TOTAL SCORE – 69%
Current 2019 Rankings:
Overall: 17th Place out of 52 Movies
Drama: 8th Place out of 18 Movies
Biographical: 2nd Place out of 3 Movies
2019 DNA Matches
(Three separate scoring categories scored exactly the same)
Five Feet Apart
(different genre, but same still similarly made)
Happy Death Day 2U
The Weird Sibling
(closest match when it comes to both categories and sub-categories being scored exactly the same)
The Curse of La Llorona
Every subcategory in the BTS and Narrative Category)
PEOPLE SCORE (13/20)
Acting (3/4) | Characters (2/4) | Casting (2/4) | Importance (3/4) | Chemistry ( 3/4)
WRITING SCORE (7/10)
Dialogue (1/2) | Balance (1/2) | Story Depth (2/2) | Originality (1/2) | Interesting (2/2)
BEHIND-THE-SCENES SCORE (8/10)
Visuals (1/2) | Cinematography (2/2) | Editing (2/2) | Advertising (2/2) | Music & Sound (1/2)
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (8/10)
Introduction (2/2) | Inciting Incident (2/2) | Obstacles (1/2) | Climax (2/2) | Resolution (1/2)
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (3/10)
Rewatchability (0/2) | Fun Experience (1/2) | Impulse to Buy or Own (0/2) | Impulse to Talk About or Recommend (1/2) | Engaging & Riveting (1/2)
SPECIALTY SCORE (30/40)
Chrissy Metz (5/10) | Religion (5/10) | True Story (10/10) | Halfway Decent (10/10)