By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
With the box office success of Christian, faith-based movies like “Heaven is For Real,” “Son of God,” “God’s Not Dead,” “Miracles from Heaven” and “Soul Surfer,” it’s no surprise that Hollywood continues to tap into this once underserved, and now lucrative market.
The latest religious drama to hit theaters is “Breakthrough”
from director Roxann Dawson (“The Americans”). DeVon Franklin (“The Star” and “Miracles from Heaven”) co-produced the film and NBA star Stephen Curry (upcoming, “Jumpshot: The Kenny Sailors Story”) served as co-executive producer.
“Breakthrough” is based on a true story and adapted from the Christian novel “The Impossible.” The film stars Chrissy Metz (TV’s “This is Us”) and Josh Lucas (“J. Edgar” and TV’s “Yellowstone”) as the adoptive parents of teenager John Smith (Marcel Ruiz, Netflix’s “One Day at a Time”).
Joyce (Metz) and Brian (Lucas) live in St. Charles, Missouri. While in Guatemala for a church mission, they adopted John when he was just nine months old. Now, John is 14 and going through his rebellious adolescence stage.
He calls his parents by their first names rather than mom and dad which irritates them to no end. John also attends an elite, private Christian school, but studying isn’t his major focus. Basketball is.
John is quite the baller too. He’s an outstanding point guard on the school team and lets everyone know his favorite NBA player is Stephen Curry. Remember, Curry is the executive producer of “Breakthrough.”
John can drain sweet, fall-away, game winning jump shots much like his hoopster hero. Despite his ego and hot-shot tendencies, John’s coach sees a lot of potential in him. But, his coach also lets John know, he’ll bench him if his grades slip.
At home John must contend with his well-meaning, but overprotective and super religious parents. His mother (Metz) is trying to get used to their new church pastor, Jason Noble (a terrific Topher Grace, “Love, Death & Robots”). This guy is doing everything he can to attract youngsters to the church. He’s brought in a live band with a rapper.
Joyce prefers traditional church hymns. He dresses way too casual for her too. She prefers pastors in a suit and tie. Plus, he’s just a bit too hip with his sermons. Even his haircut annoys her.
It’s going to take a miracle for Jason and Joyce to get along.
One day, John and a couple of his buddies are playing around on a seemingly frozen lake and John falls through it. His friends manage to get out, but they can’t reach him. The poor kid is underwater for at least 15 minutes before he’s finally rescued by first responder Tommy Shine (a terrific Mike Colter, TV’s “The Good Fight” and “Luke Cage”).
It’s not looking good for John. He’s rushed to the hospital and met by the head physician, Dr. Kent Sutterer (Sam Trammell, TV’s “The Order” and “This is Us”). The medical team tries to revive John, but for 45 minutes he has no pulse.
Yet, when Joyce arrives and sees her son, she frantically yells, pleads and prays for his recovery. Dr. Garrett (the always great Dennis Haysbert, TV’s “Reverie”), an expert in treating drowning victims is called in and has no choice but to place John in an induced coma to let his body try and heal. He also warns Joyce of the dire consequences that could result from doing this.
Throughout the ordeal, Joyce’s faith and love for her son never wavers. She seldom leaves John’s side. Surprisingly neither does Pastor Noble.
When Joyce insists that John fight on his own without the medication, Dr. Garrett reluctantly agrees. It takes several days, but John miraculously pulls through and get this; he has NO
sign of brain damage or injury whatsoever.
You can call it faith, luck or divine intervention, but the turn of events are truly incredible. They even stun Dr. Garrett and the entire medical team along with most everyone in town.
With “Breakthrough,” screenwriter Grant Nieporte (“Seven Pounds”) gets the most out of this talented cast. The movie also rises above formulaic territory and to a large extent dials back the preachiness and proselytizing.
Still, I have faith you’ll be inspired and moved by this remarkable, heartwarming and powerful story.
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Check Out This Trailer For "BREAKTHROUGH"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.