Overcomer

“Your identity will be tied to whatever you give your heart to.”

This PG-rated drama inspires, surprises and enriches audiences with a sports and family-related story filled with faith, heart, and laughs.

Set in a Southern U.S. Christian school named Brookside, high school basketball coach John Harrison and his community change after the biggest manufacturing plant in town shuts down. Now, he must learn to coach cross country with Hannah, a unique female athlete on a special journey. As this special relationship builds so does the support of the community in sports competition and in life.

Alex Kendrick stars, directs, and co-writes this inspiring drama with his brother Stephen in their latest collaboration. It’s their sixth film together after War Room, Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel…audiences will catch a Flywheel reference on a license plate in this film.

Priscilla Shirer portrays principal Olivia Brooks and starred in the Kendrick Brothers’ previous film, War Room. Her performance is impressive though her facial expressions near the end are a bit confusing. Overall her heartfelt performance helps anchor this inspiring film as Aryn Wright-Thompson makes her feature film debut as Hannah, a transfer student-athlete with asthma living with her grandmother portrayed by Denise Armstrong.

Haitian native Cameron Arnett portrays Thomas Hills and starred in Meet the Browns, Stand Your Ground, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. His stand-out performance really provides the narrative center for the main characters.

Shari Rigby portrays John’s wife Amy and starred in October Baby. Jack Sterner makes his feature film debut as John’s older son Ethan while one of the actual Kenderick clan plays the young son.

The plot is not very predictable and has decent character development. Overcomer definitely tugs at the heartstrings in plausible ways with memorable and powerful messages without shying away from confrontation and uncomfortable situations.

Filmmakers accomplish a lot with the modest 5 million dollar budget as their skills and techniques grow and refine. Alex Kenderick incorporates several overhead shots in the sports/action sequences. He does not use many tracking shots (except a special sequence on a golf cart that sets up the film’s climax) though the cast and extras do quite a lot as Kenderick largely keeps the camera stationary. A slow, sweeping pan shot moving right at the beginning of a cross country race is also particularly effective.

As in previous Kenderick brothers’ films, the audience can see easily identifiable themes (prayer in War Room, marriage in Fireproof, fear in Facing the Giants). This film’s main theme concerns finding one’s identity in Christ based on Ephesians 1 and 2. “What have you allowed to define you?” is a consistent question for all the characters. “Our culture wants to say identity is what you feel, or what culture says about you, or some status, job status, financial status . . . [a]nd all those things can change. So, who are you when what you are known for is stripped away?”

Overcomer is an emotional experience. The characters ask general questions as the plot takes the audience through a journey of following Jesus whether they know about Him or not while sifting through modern culture.

Paul Mills (Indivisible) composes the musical score filled with horns, strong movements, and themes from the powerful songs like “Who You Say I Am” performed by Hillsong Worship. Audiences react strongly to two music montages, so don’t be surprised to see reactions emulate something you would see during a church service (I had the lady in front of me raise her hands up during Hannah’s sequence where she goes on a solo run).

Artists performing these songs include Bonray, Casting Crowns, Lauren Daigle, Koryn Hawthorne, Nicole C. Mullen, Tenth Avenue North, Lauren Wells, Zach Williams, and Mandisa who performs the title song.

This one-hour and 55-minute film comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and is rated PG for some thematic elements. Overcomer is not based on a true story or real events and the film’s title was inspired by 1 John 5:5. Audiences can even find supplementary resources at https://www.overcomermovie.com/share-tools.

 

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